As I write this on a sunny day, many of us are thinking about all the beauty requirements to get beach ready, like spray tans, manicures, pedicures and waxing. With bikinis on the brain, it’s easy to forget that all that sun means that this is the time of year when we should all be taking extra care of our skin – especially our faces. With that in mind, I thought I’d publish a few summer skincare tips, that I’ve been sharing with my customers, to make it through the rest of the season with a glowing and healthy complexion.
Exfoliation and rehydration are key in sunny months to stop pores getting blocked by sun cream, sweat, tanning products, and allergens like pollen, dust and pollution – while also replenishing moisture lost from spending more time outdoors, exposed to the sun.
Often when we talk about good, toned skin, we (usually unknowingly) are referring to skin with ‘closed’ or non-visible pores. Enlarged or ’open’ pores are frowned upon in the quest for perfection, but we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves as our pores don’t really open or close, and their size is predominantly genetic.
An enlarged or open pore is just doing its job, working to release sebum and dead skin cells from the hair follicle it is a part of. What can happen though is skin debris from sebum and topical products get clogged around the pore, like leaves or litter clog around a drain. This can lead to the pore becoming blocked and enlarged, causing bacterial build up, resulting in a blackhead, spot or even acne in more severe cases.
Regular exfoliation is vital for the maintenance of healthy pores and healthy skin. Ideally you should choose a natural, gentle exfoliator that combines both physical and chemical exfoliation. That way, you get the best of both worlds in a system that won’t aggravate your skin. Physical exfoliation can be in the form of ground fruit seeds or drupes such as rosehips or almonds. These will help to physically remove or pluck out debris.
The best chemical exfoliators are the AHAs – or alpha hydroxy acids – as they can be naturally found in fruits and some vegetables. These enzymes will directly break down dead skin cells, making them easier to wash away and expose new skin. Some are milder than others, so less irritating for sensitive skins – choose fruit or pumpkin AHAs.
So, once you have a clean, unblocked base (and know to exfoliate regularly for healthy summer skin) what else can help?
Our skin is our largest biochemical organ, working 24 hours a day without fail, so it goes without saying that it needs constant replenishing. Most, if not all, of the nutrients it needs are provided by our diet (except vitamin D from sunlight), so it really is true that you are what you eat.
Our modern, busy lives call for a lot of convenient, processed foods, coffee pick-me-ups, booze and stress that can make it hard to follow a pure, natural diet. Most of us are already tired or dehydrated most of the time, so when you add sun exposure and summer holidays into the mix skin can really suffer. The single most important ingredient to help your skin survive the season is good old water (it’s not rocket science).
70% of the body is made up of water, but when we are in short supply of it (dehydrated) the supplies we have in our bodies are used to support our vital organs, blood and lymph streams – leaving our poor skin to play second fiddle. Drinking lots of water and other (healthy) fluids is of course paramount, but we can also apply water topically in the form of a good moisturiser.
What makes a moisturiser ‘good’? Well, you want a gentle one that works in harmony with your skin, look for natural brands that are suitable for all skin types not just your own. Head on the block here: your skin can largely self-regulate itself and all skin, whatever its age, gender, colour, type has exactly the same fundamental biochemistry and physiology: a structure based on elastin, collagen and water.
We all want ingredients that bind water into the deeper layers and hold it there, like ‘humectant’ (found in many seaweed extracts), hyaluronic acid and (ethically-sourced) glycerine. Opting for lighter lotions and milks that don’t sit heavy or greasy on the skin will also help as these can soak straight in. In the summer, go for vitamin E (‘tocopherol’), which can also aid against environmental damage.
Hope you found this useful, enjoy the rest of the summer everyone!