Summer means sunshine, time outdoors and fun trips. Just as we adjust our schedules to seasonal change, we should be thinking about our skin care since weather and other environmental factors can have a big impact on it as well. Here are some tips for how you can tackle the warmest months of the year, so you can stay radiant all summer long.

sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
While sunshine boosts mood and allows for lots of fun outdoors, it contains harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can prematurely age the skin (yikes!) and even lead to skin cancer (double yikes!). Make protecting your skin from sun exposure a priority by regularly applying a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people only apply 25% to 50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. You should use enough to cover any skin that isn’t clothed. For adults, that generally means one ounce, which is enough to fill a shot glass. Regardless of how high the SPF is, reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating. If you use a cosmetic product that includes sun protection like a BB or CC cream, it needs to be regularly reapplied as well.

hydration—inside and out
In the summer, our bodies lose more water thanks to sweating. Dehydration can cause skin to appear dry, dull, and scaly, and it can make fine lines and wrinkles more apparent. Drinking enough water is an important step in keeping your skin healthy and glowing during the summer. You also want to make sure your skin care routine includes a lightweight moisturizer that will work well with sunscreen. It will keep your skin hydrated without feeling greasy. If you have dry skin, a gel-based moisturizer with ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides can be just as effective as a heavier product. For dry skin, look for water-based products.

post-sun care
What you do after spending time in the sun can also make a big impact on your skin. Sun exposure dries your skin out—and that’s doubly true if you’ve just hit the beach and were also exposed to sand and salt water. Start with a cool shower to wash off residue and soothe your skin. Turning the water up too high can dry you out further. Afterwards, apply a moisturizer to your face and body. If you do get a sunburn, treat it with aloe vera or another soothing lotion or gel. Don’t pick at the dry skin or any blisters. To prevent further irritation, stay away from heat sources, including hot showers, and protect yourself from further sun exposure. Also make sure to drink plenty of water—you may find yourself dehydrated.

check your moles
If you spend a lot of time in the sun, it’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on your moles. Scheduling a semi-regular full-body exam with your dermatologist will help both you and them keep track of how they evolve over time. Knowing that your skin is cancer-free will help you enjoy your summer, and early intervention can help problems from developing or worsening in the future. At home, you can monitor yourself by following the ABCDEs. Remember a mole may be cancerous if:

  • Asymmetry: One half of a mole does not match the other half.
  • Border: The edges are ragged, blurred or irregular.
  • Color: The color is not the same throughout, or it has shades of multiple colors.
  • Diameter: The diameter is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
  • Elevation: It becomes raised after being flat, or it changes over a short period of time.

the power of antioxidants
The UV rays from the sun can cause unstable molecules, known as free radicals, to damage your skin and cause premature signs of aging as well as hyperpigmentation and acne. Antioxidants can help protect your skin from free radicals and reduce the impact of sun exposure. Plus, you can add them to your summer routine through both skin care and diet.

antioxidant-rich foods:
Cruciferous vegetables
Beans and lentils
Olive Oil

common antioxidants in skin care:
Vitamin E
Vitamin C
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
Retinoids (Vitamin A)
Green tea extract

Sources: American Academy of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, University of Rochester Medical Center