There are two times a year when skin is at its driest and it can be almost impossible to stay hydrated – when temperatures hit the extremes. These are the summer and the winter. Each season has its own unique skin care issues. Summer is one of the hardest, where the heat is dry in some places and humid in others. Without any question this is one of the most challenging times for skin care professionals and one of the most frustrating for most of TSLMS members’ clients and patients.
Summer Skin Ailments
The American Academy of Dermatology Association has put together a list of the most common skin issues that people have during the summer. They include:
- Acne breakouts: When sweat mixes with bacteria and oils on your skin, it can clog your pores. If you have acne-prone skin, this often means breakouts.
- Dry, irritated skin: When outdoor air is hot and humid, you can still have dry irritated skin. The biggest culprits are spending time in the sun, pool, and air-conditioning.
- Folliculitis: Every hair on your body grows out of an opening called a follicle. When follicles get infected, you develop folliculitis. Infected hair follicles look like pimples, but they tend to be itchy and tender. Infection from a manicure or pedicure: Manicures and pedicures can leave your nails looking great, but they can also expose you to germs that can cause an infection.
- Melasma: Being out in the sun can make those brown to gray-brown patches on your face more noticeable.
- Poison ivy, oak, and sumac (rash): Many people develop an intensely itchy rash when a substance found in these plants, urushiol, gets on their skin.
- Prickly heat (or heat rash): Blocked sweat glands cause this. Because the sweat cannot get out, it builds up under your skin, causing a rash and tiny, itchy bumps. When the bumps burst and release sweat, many people feel a prickly sensation on their skin.
- Seabather’s eruption: Also called pica-pica, this itchy rash develops in people who go in the Caribbean Sea and the waters off the coasts of Florida and Long Island, New York. You get it when newly hatched jellyfish or sea anemones get trapped between your skin and your swimsuit, fins, or other gear.
- Sun allergy: You can develop hives (an allergic skin reaction) when you’re in the sun if you take certain medications or have a sun sensitivity (usually runs in the family). If you have an allergic reaction to the sun, you’ll see red, scaly, and extremely itchy bumps on some (or all) bare skin. Some people also get blisters.
- Sunburn: Getting sunburn can spoil summer fun and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
- Swimmer’s ear: When water gets trapped in your ear canal, you can develop an infection called swimmer’s ear.
- Swimmer’s itch: Also called clam digger’s itch, this itchy rash appears after wading or swimming in lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water. You get it when parasites in the water burrow into your skin, causing tiny red spots on areas that your swimsuit didn’t cover. Sometimes, intensely itchy welts (hives) and blisters appear. Children are especially susceptible because they tend to stay in shallow, warmer water.
Taking Care of Skin In the Summer
A big part of summer skin care is making sure that there is no irreparable damage done. This requires a change of skin care routine during those hot months – and taking into account any travel to climates that are salty, dry, overly humid, in high altitudes or exceptionally low altitudes. This is something that the beauty and fashion magazines pay particularly close attention to. In this case, they are your best friend and partner – as most of your clients and patients are probably reading them and following their advice.
Take, for instance, the advice that Harper’s Bazaar gives on summer skin care. Their biggest advice is to avoid burning at all cost. The rest has to do with the routine of taking care of your skin:
Just like you wouldn’t wear winter clothes in summer, you might want to tweak your skincare products going into the summer season. If during the winter you used gentler cream cleansers and more hydrating moisturisers on your skin to counteract the drying winter climate and central heating, you may now want to change back to more thorough foaming cleansers and more light-weight moisturisers…
Saying that, more often than not, my patients continue to use the same (optimal) skincare routine throughout the year, as healthy skin should be able to adjust to the changing climate without majorly changing your skincare routine. It’s important to give the skin a chance to adjust itself, rather than being overprotective and doing all the hard work for it by using overly rich skincare in winter. Over-caring for your skin by plastering on too heavy skincare, unless you suffer with genetically dry and eczema-prone skin, may make the skin ‘lazy’ (for lack of a better word) and dull. So, don’t wrap your skin in cotton wool. See whether it may adjust naturally, which will take a few weeks.
I always recommend using sun protection all year around. The reason for this is that while the burning UVB rays are much weaker in winter, the skin ageing UVA rays don’t fluctuate as much throughout the seasons. My recommendation is to wear an SPF 30-50 to slow down the ageing process and keep your skin in optimal condition long-term. However, should you have down-graded your SPF (or even worse, not used one) in the winter, then now is certainly the time to go back to daily SPF – no excuses.
This is solid advice that we can pass onto our clients and patients.
Summer Is Not The Best Season For Skin Work? Or Is It?
There is a prevailing myth that the summer is not the best time to get laser treatments, or other work done on the face. This is a myth, however, provided that the recipient doesn’t do anything that they would not do any other season right after having work done. As one provider puts it:
Over the years, the myth that laser treatments for skin shouldn’t be performed during the summer months has become commonly accepted as a fact. While there may be certain limitations and restrictions associated with getting laser treatments during months when people experience higher levels of sun exposure, there is no reason you can’t go ahead with treatments during any season. In fact, undergoing laser treatments during the summer can help you maintain your healthy-looking, sun-kissed glow well into fall. It is time to debunk this myth and truly understand why laser treatment is a safe bet, even during the summer. (Source).
The trick is avoiding the sun. Applying liberal amounts of sunscreen when your clients are in the sun, and re-applying it every 2 hours. Under those conditions, any laser treatment should work just as well in the summer as in the winter, spring, or fall.