Summers are synonymous with examinations, vacations, afternoon siestas and ample sunshine. While sunshine can be a mood elevator, continuous exposure to harsh rays of the sun can lead to permanent damage to our skin and a phenomenon called photo-aging.
As a plastic surgeon, I encounter a lot of patients looking for treatment for their spots and blemishes as also anti-aging treatments. These changes have occurred due to years and years of untamed sun exposure. Hence being vigilant and maintaining your skin well during harsh summer months can prevent sun damage and help keep your skin blemish-free and young for a long time.
Here are a few important and cost-effective tips everyone should follow to enjoy a guilt-free time in the sun:
1. Always stay hydrated: The fact that we need to stay optimally hydrated in the summer months cannot be overemphasized. Our water requirement increases 1.5 times in summers. So normally if we are drinking 2 liters of water, the requirement is at least 3-4 liters of water every day. This cannot be substituted by sugar-loaded fruit juices and soft drinks.
2. Sun protection: While our mothers have always been at it, use of wide-brim hats, umbrellas, sunglasses are a must when going out especially between 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. Sunscreens with SPF more than 30 should be applied every 2 hourly when out in the sun and even at home.
3. Know your skin type and follow a skincare regime: According to a study 88% of people use products unsuitable for their skin type. There is no one size fits all. So customizing and following your skincare routine is essential.
4. Cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising: Cleaning your face with a gentle exfoliating wash containing salicylic acid is advisable at least twice daily in the summers. The skin over the face, neck and chest is thin, so avoid using harsh alkaline soaps in these areas. Another common mistake many people do is to avoid moisturizers in summer. Skin needs as much hydration in summers as winters. Thick creamy moisturizers, lipid-based creams can be clog pores and are comedogenic to the skin, especially in summers and should be avoided. Gel-based moisturizers containing soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe vera are preferable. Once or twice in a week, one should use an exfoliating scrub for removing the dead cells which cause dullness and restore the glow to your face.
5. Make-up and hygiene: Always use SPF before applying makeup. Heavy and darker shades of makeup should be avoided. Mineral-based makeup is preferable. Again removing makeup before sleeping and cleansing and moisturizing as your night care routine is extremely important to get that glowing face in the morning. Taking a bath twice daily, using lukewarm water is important and keeping all skin creases dry and healthy are important to prevent fungal infections.
6. Do not forget your hair and nails: While taking care of the skin, we often forget our hair and nails. Harsh sun can dry out the hair and scalp, causing brittle, frizzy hair and scalp acne. Hair should be protected with use of suitable hats and umbrellas. Keeping them clean, and moisturising your scalp with coconut oil application once a week before washing as well as deep conditioning of hair are all important measures for hair care. Getting a nice manicure and pedicure at the salon or at home is a good way of maintaining dry and crusty sun-damaged nails.
7. Lips and Eyes: The signs of aging appear first in the periorbital and then perioral areas. The skin near the eyes is very thin and prone to developing dark circles, crow's feet, lines, and wrinkles. Using Sunglasses, regular cleansing with gentle cleansers, using soothing eye care masks and collagen regenerators can help protect the periorbital area. Lips too need adequate hydration. Using vitamin E based and hyaluronic acid-based lip conditioners and nourishing lip balms is advisable. A simple application of ghee and malai is also useful.
8. Healthy summer diet: What we eat is what we are. So what we ingest during the hot summer days should never be neglected. Always eat colour. The yellows of mango, papaya, pineapples and muskmelons, the orange of citrus fruits and pumpkins, the red of carrots, watermelons and beetroots, the greens of all leafy vegetables. Cut down on red meat, curries, and fried foods and go for salads and stir fries. Go for yogurts and fresh fruit and always eat fresh. Simple dietary modifications can go a long way in improving our gut strength and give us glowing skin. So follow these simple tips for those beautiful selfies in the sun and have a great time with your family this summer!