While we’re all anxious to get into the full swing of summer, a summer skincare routine is your best companion for travel, beach days, and fun in the sun. You likely already know, SPF is vital during the summer months, but it’s not the only thing you need for a hydrated, dewy glow this season.
Summer Skincare Tips for Naturally Great Skin
A healthy summer skincare routine can help you decrease inflammation, protect from DNA damage, keep your skin hydrated, and most importantly–protect from damaging UV radiation that can accelerate skin aging, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles.
But truly holistic summer skincare goes deeper than just swapping one product for another.
You’ll learn which system impacts the health of your skin more than any other, foods that mediate photodamage (or damage caused by the sun), and how you can keep your skin looking young and fresh while still enjoying summer sun.
1. Show your ‘friendly bacteria’ some love.
Not many things can change the health of your skin for the better (or worse) than your gut. Breakouts, rashes, and dry skin can all be linked to a poorly functioning digestive system.
If you experience constipation, diarrhea, or bloating, your microbiome needs some help to repair and properly absorb nutrients for better skin this summer.
Eat more prebiotic-rich foods like leafy greens, garlic, onion, asparagus, and bananas. Add more probiotics with fermented foods like sauerkraut, beet kvass, kombucha, or yogurt.
If you struggle with yeast infections, or have a white coating on your tongue, you may need to get Candida overgrowth in check to improve your skin.
Diet and lifestyle play a role in the gut-skin connection, and keeping your gut happy is a big foundational step in protecting your skin during the summer.
2. Get more skin-protecting nutrients.
Phytonutrients, such as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, filter blue light and protect your skin from environmental damage like the high-energy of UV rays (1). This helps your skin stay healthier and younger looking when exposed to sunlight, and the normal stresses of daily life.
Studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin support an even skin tone and greater skin elasticity (1).
Lutein and zeaxanthin usually occur together in foods, such as:
- Swiss chard
For more skin healthy plant nutrients, cook with olive oil, and make sure to get plenty of omega-3 fats. These help to modulate inflammation that can cause skin redness, and provide polyphenols that support skin health.
3. Eat more antioxidants.
Dermatologists and integrative doctors agree that eating more antioxidants can help fight free radical damage and help maintain healthy skin. This makes your skin less prone to developing wrinkles and inflammation (2).
For a holistic summer skincare hack, try swapping your morning cup of coffee for green tea. Green tea has been shown to protect from photoaging, or the aging effects from exposure to light (3).
Green tea is about 80% polyphenols, like quercetin and kaempferol, including potent antioxidants like EGCG. It’s also been shown to increase the level of collagen and elastin fibers present in the skin (3).
For even more antioxidants, try matcha powder, which is made of dried and ground young green tea leaves, and is one of the most antioxidant-rich food sources available.
4. Drink (more) water.
Properly hydrated skin begins with–you guess it–drinking enough water! While taking care of your moisture barrier from the outside is important too, healthy, hydrated skin starts from within.
Since it’s warmer outside, you’re likely sweating a little more than average, which causes your body to lose more water over the course of the day. This can make your skin feel parched and dry.
Start with drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily (i.e. a 150 lb woman would need about 75 oz of water). This number increases if you work out that day, or spend time outside, as these activities increase your metabolic demand for water.
5. Lighten up your moisturizer.
If you’re prone to clogged pores (which many of us are), a simple and light moisturizer is key for your summer skincare routine. Try a moisturizer with electrolytes, peptides, and ceramides to increase the hydration factor without weighing down your skin.
Moisturizers are still vital to your skincare routine in the summer, despite the extra humidity in the air. Moisturizers help keep the outermost layer of your skin healthy, which you need to protect from harmful environmental toxins and pollution that cause signs of aging and irritation.
So when the weather heats up, opt for a lightweight moisturizer (or a SPF + moisturizer combo), and leave the heavy creams for the fall and winter seasons.
Noticing more wrinkles and prone to dry skin? You may be missing key B vitamins.
6. Find an SPF you love.
Without a doubt, staying consistent with your sun protection is the name of the game for healthy, glowing summer skin. You’ll learn more about how to choose the right sunscreen for you in a moment, but for now, just remember that daily application is key!
There are many different types of sunscreen, but the best one for you is often the one you’ll use most often. And yes, you still need to apply SPF if you’re indoors, as UV rays do penetrate windows in your home or car.
7. Accessorize with a wide-brimmed hat.
Let’s be honest, if you care enough about healthy skin to come this far, you know the importance of this chic accessory. Going the extra mile for great summer skin sometimes means putting a physical barrier between your delicate facial skin and the sun’s UV rays. Sunscreens are protective, but shading your face is a game-changer.
While your legs might enjoy soaking up the sun with a little more ease, the skin on your face is especially susceptible to photoaging and hyperpigmentation, and the sun is the #1 contributor to these, and diseases like skin cancer.
My SPF and Sunscreen Rules
The biggest change to your summer skincare routine is being consistent with protective SPF on your face and body. While the sun’s UV rays can technically still cause skin damage all year long, it’s especially important to be diligent with daily sunscreen in the warmer months when we’re outside more frequently, and the sun has a higher UV index.
There are many different types of sunscreens, SPF levels, and products, but here are my basic rules:
Mineral based sunscreens (i.e. those that contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide) are lower in endocrine disrupting compounds, and work by creating a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s UV rays.
Make sure your mineral sunscreen is ‘non-nano’ meaning the particles are large enough to stay on the surface of the skin. Nano (very fine particle) mineral sunscreens absorb through the skin and can accumulate in the body.
Sometimes, mineral sunscreens can irritate acne prone skin, and if this is the case for you, using a blend of chemical and mineral sunscreens may be a more realistic option.
Apply your SPF every single day, and don’t forget to reapply every 2 hours, especially if you’re outside! Even the highest quality sunscreens recommend reapplication to be effective.
Should I Use A Higher SPF?
For a time, the FDA believed there really wasn’t a significant benefit in anything higher than an SPF of 50 (4).
But a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology determined that there definitely was greater sun protection with an SPF 100 when compared to SPF 50+ (5).
When you think about it, the difference between SPF 50 and SPF 100 doesn’t seem like much, until you realize that you’re getting twice the exposure with SPF 50 than you are SPF 100. Over time, that adds up, and can increase your risk of skin cancer and skin damage.
Another study in 2020, found similar results comparing the actual use of SPF 50 to SPF 100 over a period of 5-day sun exposure (6).
Summer Skincare to Protect + Hydrate
While we get ready for summer BBQ’s, long weekends, and pool days, it’s important to transition into a summer skincare routine. Sunscreen and SPF is usually the main focus, but protecting against wrinkles, aging, and sun damage goes much deeper than just slathering on sunscreen.
Healing your gut, eating more antioxidant-rich greens, staying hydrated, and of course protecting from UV rays will help your skin stay supple, dewy, and hydrated, so you can look and feel your best all summer long.
Great skin starts with a healthy gut. Learn more about the 21-Day Belly Fix to heal the root cause of your skin issues.