It may have taken its sweet time but, in the Western world, summer is very much upon us.
Before I go on, allow me to preface this blog by saying that I will not be extolling the virtues of SPF products. Not because they are not important but because I am assuming that readers of this blog are of high enough intelligence to know that applying protection as you head out into the midday sun is not a revelation in skincare.
But defending against the impact of hot weather on the skin goes beyond generously slapping on your Factor 50.
So here are a few other problems and solutions to consider as you enjoy the glorious blue skies.
As we sweat, our body is losing hydration. Makes sense, really. Fluid in = hydration, fluid out = dehydration. So when we sweat in the heat, we don’t only feel dehydrated but we look it too. What does dehydrated skin look like? Well, dry for a start. Once you’ve wiped away that film of perspiration, you’re looking at cracked lips, flaky patches and just an itchy, irritated surface which is more prone to burning.
Solving this isn’t hard. The most obvious, logical solution is to keep drinking water. I’m not just talking about quantity but frequency - don’t go longer than half an hour without sipping. You can also include foods with high water content - watermelon for example (the clue is in the name).
Summer fruits in general are great for the skin.
When we are outdoors and start to sweat, our skin becomes a magnet for dust and pollution. The combination of heat and dirt is the ideal recipe for spots to develop. The dirt and grime clogs the skin’s pores while the heat provides an ideal environment for the bacteria to thrive.
The solution to this is simply to pay extra attention to the cleanliness of your skin throughout the day. You may need to add in an extra face wash where you would ordinarily wait until the evening. No need to go through an entire routine but a purifying cleanser and splash of water takes mere moments and will also do a great job of refreshing you in the heat.
Hot weather and sensitive skin are a match made in hell. Why? Because there are so many external factors at play. The sweat coming from the heat plus the outdoor dust dancing together in your pores while you scratch the irritation they have created, making it hotter and more prone to itchiness, all culminate in a big pink, often bumpy and very annoying rash. Almost worth staying inside for. Almost.
The answer here is logical. Pay closer attention to the surface of your skin. Keep it clean and, even with the SPF, which we have already established you are wearing, try and stick to shady areas. Also, when bathing, use an anti-bacterial soap or bath gel.
If you didn’t follow the rules above, you may be faced with a bacterial infection. Bacteria multiplies at a far more rapid rate in hot environments. So not only is it everywhere, it peaks at the very time when we are continuously touching our faces and bodies. Every time you wipe the sweat from your brow you are transferring bacteria straight onto your face which is primed to invite it in to get comfortable and spread. This bounty of bacteria can often result in skin infections. For men, follicitus is also a common result when the hair follicles on the face (and, indeed, body, for the more hirsute among you) become infected by bacteria, causing inflammation.
The best way to prevent bacterial infections is by keeping your hands (the bacteria’s preferred method of transport) squeaky clean. Wash them regularly and get into the habit of carrying a hand sanitiser - especially when using public transport or similar shared spaces during the summer months.
And there you have it.
Combine these tips with that SPF product you are already using and enjoy the sunshine.