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How Your Skincare Routine Should Change in the Summer


Days get longer, weather gets warmer, and there are no more classes to attend. Summertime means more freedom and more fun for collegiettes, but it also means hours in the blazing sun and tanning skin. It’s important to remember to take care of your skin with the changing season with a few simple steps. We consulted two dermatologists in the top of their field, Dr. Julie Karen, a board certified dermatologist and co-author of the Handbook of Dermatologic Surgery and Dr. Peggy Fuller, a board certified dermatologist and founder and director of Esthetics Center for Dermatology in Charlotte, North Carolina for the inside tips and tricks for updating your skin care routine in the summer so you’ll have fresh, glowing skin from Memorial to Labor Day.

The story on sunscreen

We’ve heard it from our doctors and parents for years, but sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin during the summer months. If you do nothing else, invest in multiple bottles of sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, opting for even higher if you’re in a hotter climate or burn easily.

Which type?

Both Dr. Karen and Dr. Fuller recommend using broad spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) sunscreens. Dr. Fuller highly recommends mineral sunscreen containing Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Dr. Karen also says, “make sure if you will be at the beach or exerting yourself/expect to be sweating, that you opt for a waterproof formulation.” If your perfect day at the beach entails playing around in the ocean or gathering friends for a game of sand volleyball, make sure your sunscreen works as hard as you do and specifically has “waterproof” on the label.

Furthermore, Dr. Karen says, “If you are concerned about oily skin, for reapplication of sunscreen, consider Colorescience brush for reapplication rather than lotions.” The double-duty, easy-to-use brushes will make it even easier for you to retouch your makeup and add SPF in between meetings or out by the pool.

How often?

Dr. Karen and Dr. Fuller remind young women that all sunscreens need to be reapplied at least every two hours. Try keeping a bottle of sunscreen in your purse, beach bag and gym bag, so you never find yourself without it. Set a timer on your phone for every two hours, or re-apply every time you go to the bathroom to make sure you’re never leaving your skin vulnerable.

Embrace your skin tone

What is a tan exactly? “It's the body's way of saying, how can I thicken and darken so that I don't accumulate further injury”, explains Dr. Karen. Dr. Fuller encourages young women. “If your skin is pale, embrace it!,” she says. “Fair skin is in style and millions of women of mature age are wishing they could go back in time to do things differently. Sun protection for your skin is the simplest anti-aging action you can do now and will be thankful that you did years from now.” Remember, you don’t need a bronzy glow to look amazing this summer, and it’s always safer to show you had an incredible summer through pictures and stories, rather than by the color of your skin.

But if you’re still craving some color…. fake it 'till you make it

There are safe alternatives to getting a summer glow if you want. “Products such as JERGENS Natural Glow can gradually add a sun-kissed glow within a few days, while moisturizing your skin,” says Dr. Fuller. She emphasizes that you’ll want to make sure you’re applying your self-tanner in the right way to make it look as natural as possible. “Be sure to exfoliate your body and moisturize frequently to provide an even application,” she says. “One trick would be to wear vinyl gloves when applying the lotion. This would ensure a smoother application of the product and not have it concentrated or absorbed on the palms of your hands.”

If you are interested in getting a fake tan, skip the tanning beds at all costs and research places near you that do spray tans, or ask a friend with a similar natural skin tone as you what products they use. Reilly Tuccinard, the Her Campus National Beauty Editor, raves about the Loreal Paris Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist as another safer alternative to tanning. If you’re unsure about what color is right for you, always start on the lighter side and apply another coat if needed. In addition, bronzers can be used on the face to give yourself sun-kissed radiance that will make everyone think you just got back from a tropical getaway.

Protect your lips

Did you know your skin isn’t the only part of you that can get a sunburn? “Make sure your lips are protected as well”, says Dr. Fuller. “Wear lip balms or lipsticks with SPF 30 or higher.” Try brands like Kiss My Face, Tommy Bahama and Suntegrity Lipstick so you won’t be shying away from a kiss from your summer fling because of burnt lips!

Add extra vitamins

Sunscreen isn’t the only product your skin will need this summer. Dr. Karen suggests that, “in addition to a sunscreen, topical antioxidants should be layered beneath the sunscreen. These, which include Vit C and Vit E, are typically in serum form. When layered under sunscreen they help to neutralize or counteract the damage that occurs despite sunscreen.” If you are unsure about what products will be best for your individual skin type and lifestyle, make an appointment with a dermatologist to figure out what works best for you.

Related: 5 Overnight Beauty Tips to Wake Up Prettier

Moisturize only when necessary

Dr. Karen says, “Moisturizers are generally less important and can often be skipped during the warmer, more humid summer months.” If you’re prone to having dry skin, Dr. Fuller says, “Hydrating toners, face and body mists and masks can also be added to help your skin soften.” Instead of applying a heavy moisturizer daily all over your face, try only using it in your driest spots. Also, avoid regimens that include retinoid, as it will make your skin more prone to drying.

Drink up

“Hydration for your skin is important during the summer heat,” says Dr. Fuller, “Water, water and more water should be consumed to hydrate inside and out. If your skin is still feeling a little dry, Dr. Fuller says, “use gentle moisturizing lotions or oils regularly. Hydrating toners, face and body mists and masks can also be added to help your skin to be soft.” Aim for consuming 12 to 15 glasses, or 2.7 liters, of fluids everyday. Make drinking not feel like a chore by infusing water with your favorite summer fruits, or buying a marked water bottle to keep you on track all day.

Let your skin breathe

For the girls who love getting dolled up, summer may be the time to step away from your makeup mirror more. Dr. Fuller suggests, “Allow your skin to breath by not wearing makeup. If you must wear makeup, apply mineral based makeup that is non-comedogenic, so it’s less likely to clog your pores.” If you are still looking for coverage, swap your heavy foundation for a CC cream, which is lightweight, hydrating and includes skin tone-evening ingredients.

Summer might mean having more free time to spend with your friends and family, but there are also specific dangers for your skin. Follow these steps so all you have to think about is sun, swim (and getting more sleep), and you’ll come back from summer break looking better than ever! 

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