Whether you choose to heed the reality or not, the fact of the matter is that summer ushers in a lot of aggressive environmental stressors that can wreak havoc on your skin, and hair, and make a lasting impact on your personal health.
There are a lot of scary statistics out there: it’s estimated that one American dies of melanoma every hour, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, and 50 million people are treated for it annually. Sun damage is also the number one cause of premature aging.
But as research scientist, dermatologist, and author of “The Beauty of Dirty Skin” Dr. Whitney Bowe told Business Insider, she tries to put all that into perspective for patients. She says, “Rather than letting the statistics scare you, let them motivate you to be proactive about your healthy skin.” In other words, do something about it.
If you’re looking for the expert knowledge and the products you should be buying to install (once and for all) a foolproof summer skin care regime, Dr. Bowe has given you a study guide — all without a trip to the doctor’s office.
Below are Dr. Whitney Bowe’s recommendations for building your own airtight summer skin care routine:
1. Use sunscreen — and use the right kind
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Clear Skin Dry Sunscreen, $20 on Amazon and Dermstore
I have long been a fan of the Anthelios Melt-In Milk Sunscreen. For my acne prone patients, I recommend “non-comedogenic” products like this one, meaning the product will not clog your pores. This dry-finish sunscreen actually has ingredients which absorb excess oil on the skin and contains antioxidants to promote your skin’s health.
For quick, brush-on (even over makeup) application:
Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush On Sunscreen in SPF30 or SPF50, $50 – $65 on Amazon, Dermstore, and Overstock
I use this mineral based, brush on sunscreen throughout the day, right over my makeup. It is so easy to apply, provides great coverage and protection, and looks beautiful as well. No greasy application and great for all skin types. I keep it in my pocketbook and I even keep one in my car. My patients swear by it as well.
For hydration and fighting environmental and UV damage:
Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30, $42 on Amazon, Dermstore, Nordstrom, Sephora, and Overstock
This multitasking cream works to moisturize your skin, fight environmental damage and UV pollution, and nourish your skin with antioxidants, which protect from free radical damage, all while protecting your skin from sun damage. If you work in a city during the summer months like I do, this is a great daytime product to wear under your makeup.
All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion, $14.24 on Amazon and ThriveMarket
Thinksport SPF 50, $18.84 on Amazon, Walmart, and ThriveMarket
All Good is a reef-friendly, zinc oxide-based sunscreen with a lightweight, water-resistant formula and is rich in organic green tea and rose hips.
Thinksport has no avobenzone, oxybenzone, or UV chemical absorbers. It’s water-resistant for up 80 minutes and is absorbed easily by your skin.
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50, $18.07 on Amazon, Target, and Walmart
It’s fragrance-, paraben-, phthalate-, and dye-free. Great for children with sensitive or eczema-prone skin.
2. Build back your skin’s natural barrier with probiotics so your clear skin is actually sustainable
Our antiseptic cleansing styles and obsession with antibacterial soaps and cleansers have stripped our skin of its healthy bacteria. If your skin’s healthy microbiome is disrupted by harsh cleansers and other abrasive skin care products, this discontent results in breakouts, rosacea flares, psoriasis, eczema, and even sensitive skin.
In sharp contrast, when your good bugs are healthy, your skin is, in turn, healthy and radiant. That’s because these essential bugs fight infections, combat against environmental damage, boost our immune system, and keep our skin hydrated and radiant. Even better, the results are lasting.
After sustaining sun exposure and environmental irritants, you want to nourish, heal and soothe your skin’s barrier [with probiotics].
3. Wear clothes made with UPF
UPF (which stands for “ultraviolet protection factor” and indicates how much of the sun’s UV rays are absorbed by the fabric before it reaches your skin) is to fabric what SPF is to your skin.
The ability of a fabric to block UV rays is based on factors like the fiber structure, density of weave, and dye components. If you wear a standard white t-shirt in the pool, when wet, it has a UPF value of about 3 – so almost no sun protection. In sharp contrast, UPF clothing can offer protection up to UPF 50 (and often even higher when tested)! That’s a huge difference in terms of sun protection.
The brands that I often wear and recommend to my patients include Mott50 (found on Amazon and Nordstrom), Cabana Life (Amazon) and Coolibar (Amazon).
Using UPF clothing also reduces the amount of sunscreen you are using, so it’s a reef-friendly option.
4. Take supplements
Heliocare Supplement, $27.20 on Walmart, Amazon, and Jet
Sunscreen doesn’t protect against half of the free radical damage our skin faces every day from UV light, infrared light, visible light, and even our natural metabolic processes. Natural supplements like Heliocare, which is made from a powerful blend of antioxidants, provide an extra layer of protection against skin cancer and premature signs of aging including brown spots. I also recommend that my patients with melasma take a Heliocare supplement each morning. It won’t replace your sunscreen but will work synergistically with your sunscreen and smart sun protection choices.
5. Protect your hair against the harsh environmental stressors of summer with leave-in conditioner and quick-dry towels
Aquis Original Hair Towel, $21 on Amazon
The outermost layer of the hair fiber (called the cuticle) determines its surface properties and affects both appearance (shiny or dull) and feel (soft/silky or rough/frizzy). The hair’s inner cortex is responsible for hair’s resistance to breakage. Both of these key structural elements of hair are damaged by exposure to the harsh environmental stressors of summer.
Water is very damaging to hair. When wet, hair fibers swell, creating a weakened state that is more prone to breakage. Fiber to fiber friction that occurs when playing in the water, surfing, and swimming causes damage to the surface (outer cuticle) of the wet hair.
Coat the surface of the hair with conditioner or coconut oil. Use heat-free drying (like this towel) to quickly dry hair without damaging it. [The Aquis hair towels] use microfiber tech to wick water without friction, reduce total drying time by 50%, minimize frizz and enhance shine.
For protecting and strengthening damaged hair:
Coconut Oil, $10.25 on Amazon
Argan Oil, $10 on Amazon
Use hair conditioning treatments that will smooth and protect the hair surface during and after summer activities. Look for products with surface-active ingredients such as silicones that provide excellent slip for de-tangling and a smooth, shiny appearance. Also, antioxidant natural oils like coconut and Argan, and revitalizing proteins can protect, nourish and strengthen damaged hair, improve smoothness, softness, manageability, and shine.
For water activities:
Sun Bum Revitalizing 3 In 1 Leave-in Conditioner, $13 on Amazon
We recommend using Sun Bum Revitalizing 3 In 1 Leave-in Conditioner prior to getting in the water and reapply after exposure to the water, this helps to minimize the salt water or chlorinated water’s effect on the hair.
6. Follow a healthy diet
Your diet can help protect you from the sun from the inside out; Lycopene in tomatoes, beta-carotene in carrots, polyphenols in green tea, and omega 3 rich foods like salmon all can help nourish and protect your skin from skin cancer.