Dry, bumpy, patchy or sunburnt skin? While the long summer days offer plenty of positives, the warmer weather can also leave your skin looking and feeling worse for wear. Here are some common summer skin problems and ways to solve them.
Sunburn is a no-no, but if your skin has seen too much sun, provide instant relief with a cooling, soothing lotion containing menthol (Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Moisturising Lotion, RRP $23) or aloe vera (Palmers Aloe Vera Formula with Vitamin E, RRP $10).
Keeping your skin hydrated will also help prevent peeling and flaking. Keep sunburnt skin cool with a cold compress and, if you’ve developed blisters, keep the area clean and dry. Soak in a bath of cool or lukewarm water with a few drops of Bio-Oil (RRP $20) to further ease the pain and aid healing.
Avoid the sun until your skin has healed completely, as sunburnt skin is more susceptible to subsequent burns, plus continued sun exposure can later result in skin cancer.
Even if you don’t usually suffer from body acne, or “bacne”, Auckland dermatologist Dr Peter Gould explains that breakouts can flare up in summer because increased perspiration, excess oil and grime can lead to clogged pores.
Combat bacne by washing with a body cleanser that contains salicylic acid, such as Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash (RRP $67), to unblock pores and dry up excess oil. To rapidly reduce the redness, size and swelling of unsightly blemishes apply Neutrogena Rapid Clear Spot Gel (RRP $14).
Avoid wearing tight clothing that holds heat and moisture close to your skin. Change into fresh clothing after exercise. Use an oil-free sunscreen. Try Estée Lauder Sun Performance Oil-Free Anti-Aging Sun Spray (RRP $45).
Spending time in the sun and swimming in the sea or chlorinated water will promptly sap moisture from your skin. Hydrate parched skin from the inside out by consuming large amounts of water. Apply moisturising lotion as often as possible.
After swimming, rinse your body with fresh water to avoid salt or chlorine build-up. Use a gentle body wash, such as Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Fragrance Free Body Wash (RRP $23).
After bathing, towel-dry and moisturise with a rich lotion such as Clarins Moisture-Rich Body Lotion with Shea Butter (RRP $56). “You need to seal in the moisture while you’re still slightly damp,” Dr Gould says.
Don’t let the bugs bite. If you smell like a flower, insects will treat you like one, so avoid wearing heavily scented beauty products. If you’re in a bug-prone environment use insect repellent on exposed skin. Help calm and heal any bites with the Herb Farm Aloe Vera Rescue Gel (RRP $23).
Nothing ruins the look of clean-shaven skin like ingrown hairs. Wash the affected area with an anti-fungal body wash, such as Tebe Body Hydrating Shower Gel (RRP $16), to help calm inflammation.
Every other day gently use a loofah or exfoliating glove – either dry or in the shower – to help dislodge trapped hairs and prevent their return. To avoid more ingrown hairs, shave in the bath or shower while the water plumps up the hairs, making them easier to cut.
Use razors that are designed for a close shave, such as the Gillette Venus Embrace Shaving System (RRP $16) for women and the King of Shaves Azor Razor (RRP $13) for men.
“Make sure you change your razor blades regularly, as a dull blade is more likely to cause ingrown hairs, and try to shave in the direction the hair is growing,” Dr Gould advises.
To prevent inflammation or infection of the hair follicle apply Comvita Medihoney Derma Cream (RRP $20) after shaving or waxing.
Hot and humid weather is a breeding ground for sweat rash. Also known as heat rash or prickly heat, this common condition occurs when dead skin cells or bacteria block the sweat glands. The trapped sweat leads to irritation, itching and an unsightly, sore red rash. This rash is commonly found where the skin rubs together: under the arms, the back of the knees, the groin and under the breasts.
Dr Gould suggests staying cool and dry, avoiding activities that induce sweating and wearing loose, light clothing.
Use an exfoliating scrub (Pure Fiji Coconut Créme Mango Body Scrub, RRP $35) at least twice a week in the shower to slough off dead skin cells. If you develop sweat rash apply a soothing lotion that contains camphor or menthol. You can also take a lukewarm bath with a handful of colloidal (milled) oatmeal or a product that contains oatmeal.
For weekend-away treatments try Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment (RRP $19), which comes in eight travel-ready packs.
Freckles, age spots and other darkened patches of skin, called hyperpigmentation, can become darker or more pronounced when skin is exposed to the sun because of excess melanin.
To avoid this, minimise your sun exposure during peak sunlight hours, always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with high SPF and cover up as much as possible.
Keep in mind that some medications, including hormonal supplements, antibiotics and the pill, can increase photosensitivity and have been linked to increased pigmentation.
To help even out your skin tone use brightening products such as Comvita Huni Every Day Whitening (RRP $49) and Lancôme Blanc Expert NeuroWhite Spot Eraser Serum (RRP $110).
Rosacea can be triggered by stress, environmental factors, anxiety and even some foods and alcohol. Heat from sunlight and even sunburn can also trigger the condition.
Rosacea usually begins with a “flushed” look on the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. Over time the redness becomes more frequent and noticeable and small dilated blood vessels and red acne-like bumps appear.
If you’re prone to redness it’s important, particularly during the summer months, to be aware of your particular triggers and always use non-irritating products. Try to keep your face cool and avoid peak sun exposure, warm rooms and hot showers.
A broad-spectrum sunscreen will help prevent the sunburn that can trigger the rash while certain creams will calm irritated skin. Try Clinique Redness Solutions Urgent Relief Cream (RRP $95) or Lancôme Hydra Zen Serum (RRP $115) for instant relief.