7 Summer Skincare Essentials
Want to know the secret to great skin in summer? Keep it healthy! There’s no magic wand that automatically gives you the best skin you could ask for, but there are tools you can use to keep your skin healthy from the inside out.
Summer is a dangerous time of year for your skin. Well, any day is a dangerous day for your skin, but the increased heat and UV ray exposure in the summertime can be hazardous. Sun damage to the skin can cause a variety of health problems.
How Does The Sun Damage The Skin?
Chronic exposure to UV rays from sunlight can weaken the skin’s natural immune response. It can also cause structural damage to the essential proteins that make up the skin, called collagen. The skin is the largest organ on the body, and it’s the body’s first line of defense against foreign bacteria and viruses. So when the skin suffers damage from UV rays, it affects the skin’s immunity and the skin’s texture and elasticity.
Can anything be done to reduce this risk? Yes! Here are seven essentials to help keep skin healthy during the summer.
Use a Gentle Facial Cleanser
Using a gentle face cleanser in the morning can help clear your skin of oily buildups that can clog pores. The type of facial cleanser you use depends on your skin type, and your skin type may change as you undergo menopause. Changes to hormone levels can affect how much oil your skin naturally produces. For perimenopausal women, this is especially common because of the drastic fluctuations in estrogen levels. When estrogen levels are lower than progesterone levels, it causes a rise in acne flare ups. So women who previously had a dryer skin type may suddenly experience more oily skin in localized areas (like the T-zone).
If you’re not sure what type of facial cleanser will work best for your skin type, speak to a dermatologist about the changes you’re experiencing in your skin. They can help you find an option that works best for you. You can also take skin type quizzes to help you get a baseline.
Moisturizer! Moisturizer! Moisturizer!
Acne isn’t the only danger to the skin as women go through menopause. A rise in oily skin is typical, but a rise in dry skin just as common. Dry skin is a headache, and it can be easily irritated by clothes and weather. So what causes dry skin to occur in menopause?
As estrogen levels decrease, collagen production starts to decline. Collagen is an essential protein that makes up about 80 percent of skin tissues and nearly 30 percent of the body’s proteins. It is the most abundant protein in the human body. So what happens when the body can’t produce it as effectively? Skin loses its moisture and elasticity.
Water molecules bind onto collagen proteins, which help stabilize collagen proteins, making them longer and more durable. In humid weather, water molecules in the air get absorbed into the skin and bind onto collagen proteins to help keep skin hydrated. However, in dry air, water molecules evaporate from the skin. This causes collagen structures in the skin to become thin, shortened, and brittle, which causes the skin to lose its elasticity and dry out.
So how can women support skin hydration? Use moisturizer. A quality moisturizer can help keep the skin hydrated. There are two types of moisturizers that are commonly seen in the skincare market. Some moisturizers are designed to almost trap the existing water inside the skin and prevent it from escaping. Other moisturizers are designed to help restore lost moisture in the skin by replenishing it with hydration. Both can be effective depending on your skin type and the climate you live in. However, for women undergoing menopause, most dermatologists recommend using a moisturizer that replenishes lost moisture.
Invest in Quality Sunscreen
We know that UV light causes damage to the skin, but do you know exactly how it does that? Sun damage to the skin impacts both skin integrity and skin immunity. When UV rays hit the skin, UV radiation suppresses the immune system. It does this in a number of ways.
First, it suppresses immune cells that signal and present antigens to the rest of the immune system. These cells sense when an antigen has entered the body and inform other immune cells so that they can better target and eliminate them. Without adequate cell signaling, antigens have a higher chance of multiplying and spreading, causing illnesses.
Second, UV radiation stimulates the release of immunosuppressive cytokines (another type of immune cell). When these types of cytokines are released, they restrict and inhibit the functions of other immune cells that help combat antigens. Chronic sun exposure can increase the volume of immunosuppressive cytokines which can increase the risk of skin cancers.
Lastly, it increases the production and release of certain regulatory cells that reduce cell division of other immune cells. When not enough of these essential immune cells are present, it increases the risk of autoimmunity. Autoimmunity is a series of immune responses that cause the immune system to attack its own, healthy cells.
So, if UV radiation has this kind of impact on our skin, what’s one step we can take to help the skin out. Use sunscreen. Sunscreen is not an automatic preventative against all sun exposure, but it can help reduce the effects of UV rays to some degree, especially when applied regularly. It’s recommended that you use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or higher.
The best thing to do when in the sun is to cover the skin. Dressing in light layers that help reduce UV ray exposure can help. However, ultimately the best thing to do is to stay in shaded areas. The less direct contact the skin has with sunlight, the better. Look for clothes made of breathable fabrics that you can easily layer on top of one another if you know you will be spending long periods of time in the sun. Seek out shaded areas when eating outside, or spending time outdoors in general. Wear hats that can provide shade over your face and head. Wear close-toed shoes as our feet and hands can get burned very quickly. Carry a parasol to help block some of the sunlight from hitting the skin.
Support Collagen Levels
Exposure to UV rays over the years can cause structural damage to our skin. How? It causes collagens to break down at a faster rate than the natural aging process. Collagens make up a considerable percentage of the skin’s connective tissues. When these proteins break down and become damaged, it causes the skin to lose its elasticity. As a result, the skin becomes easily wrinkled and loose.
Collagens play an important role in our skin’s immune health too. There are an estimated 20 billion immune cells in the skin. These immune cells move throughout the dermis, the thickest layer of the skin. Around 70 percent of the dermis is made of collagen, which makes the dermis the ideal place for immune cells to reside. When these collagens are broken down, immune cells in the skin cannot protect the skin from foreign bacteria and viruses as effectively.
Get Enough Vitamin C
Vitamin C is widely regarded as an essential nutrient for immune health, but it can also help promote healthier skin. Vitamin C helps accelerate the production of collagen and elastin. Both of these proteins make up connective tissues in the skin, which help the skin stay firm and plump. Vitamin C almost acts as a precursor to the production of these proteins.
So how can women improve their Vitamin C intake? Adding more fruits to your regular diet is always a good idea. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and tangerines are excellent sources of Vitamin C. Using dietary supplements of Vitamin C can also help maintain a healthy immune system and skin.
If there’s one thing you take away from this, it’s to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated during the summer is essential. Chronic exposure to high temperatures can increase the risk of heat stroke and sun burns, especially when the body is dehydrated. So why is it so important to our skin to stay hydrated?
When the skin is dehydrated it makes it more difficult for cells to perform their functions. One of these functions is cell turnover. Cell turnover is the rate at which skin sheds dead skin cells and replaces them with younger/newer skin cells. Cell turnover helps the skin stay healthy, reduces the likelihood of clogged pores and dry skin.
When the body is dehydrated, cell turnover rate decreases, making it more difficult for new skin cells to replace dead ones. This can cause skin to become extremely dry, flaky, and more susceptible to irritation. It also causes skin pores to become clogged with dead cells, which can result in acne and even bacterial infections of the skin in extreme cases. So be sure to drink those recommended 96 ounces of water a day.