Straight answers to your questions about face, body, and hair care for the steamy months
The rich face cream you use to moisturize your skin in thewinter is too heavy for hot summer days. And if it isn't already,sunscreen should become your number-one summertime accessory. Haircare needs a change, too, since winter's shampoo might not offerenough protection from the sun, saltwater, and chlorine. Andthere's more. Here, we answer your questions about warm-weatherbeauty.
My job keeps me inside most of theday. Do I still need to use sunscreen?
Yes. If you're already in the habit of applying sunscreen toyour face in the morning, you're off to a good start. But it's notenough if you'll be out during the day, says Martin Weinstock,M.D., Ph.D., chairperson of the Skin Cancer Advisory Board at theAmerican Cancer Society. You should also apply sunscreen to otherexposed areas (face, hands, forearms, etc.), even if they'll meetthe sun for only short periods. Everyday activities―runningerrands around town, sitting in traffic, eating lunch at an outdoorcafe―can add up to more sun exposure than you mightthink.
Besides the skin cancer risk, sun damage leads to prematureaging, uneven skin tone, dryness, and acne. So be safe: Every daybefore getting dressed, apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 orhigher that shields exposed skin from both uv-a and uv-b rays. Lookfor ingredients such as Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide, or zincoxide. If you have sensitive skin, choose a gentle orsensitive-skin version; opt for oil-free sunscreen if clogged poresand acne are a problem. If you'll be swimming or playing sports (orperspiring a lot for any reason), use a waterproof orwater-resistant formula, and reapply every two hourseven these willwear off. If you'll be in the sun for longer periods of time, applysunscreen all over your body, because normal clothing provides onlyminimal protection.
People prone to skin cancer (perhaps your family has a historyof the disease, or you have skin that burns easily) should considerusing sunscreen with an SPF of 35 to 50, says Conway Huang, M.D.,assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama atBirmingham. Or they can try clothing designed with added SPF. Huangsays these products offer significantly more protection from UVradiation than normal clothing. The Skin Cancer Foundationrecommends Coolibar'sline of clothing, hats, and swimwear; these garments block 98percent of ultraviolet rays.
Should I use a moisturizer in thesummer, when my skin is oilier?
Yes, but start with an antioxidant serum. "When worn under yourmoisturizer, antioxidants penetrate the skin to help block outharmful sun rays, even after your sunblock has worn off," explainsdermatologist Linda Franks, M.D. Also, swap heavier winter creamsfor a lighter moisturizing lotion. For day, be sure yourmoisturizer contains SPF 15 or higher. For more prolonged exposureto the sun, top it with a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher,Franks advises, even though it may seem like a lot.
If your skin is oily even after you've switched to a lightermoisturizer, Franks suggests using an alcohol-free toner in themorning and evening after washing with your regular cleanser. Ifyou're prone to breakouts, choose one with salicylic acid, likeL'Oreal Pure Zone Pore Tightening Astringent ($7.99).
Finally, don't neglect your lips. "The skin there is thin andvulnerable to sun damage," Franks says. Safeguard it with balmcontaining SPF 15 or higher. A lipstick or gloss containingprotection is fine for normal days, but if you're hitting thebeach, top it with sun-blocking balm.
What can I do when the heat irritatesmy skin?
Since the sun can strip skin of moisture, bathe in tepid water(hot or cold water can be drying), and use a moisturizing bodywash. If the red bumps of heat rash are a problem, use a mildantibacterial cleanser, which will fight the bacteria that buildsup in sweat glands and causes the rash. Finally, while your skin isstill damp, moisturize with a lightweight, emollient lotion.
My hair gets dry this time of year.How can I protect it?
Sun, surf, and chlorine can strip natural oils from your hairand wreak havoc on a dye job. Protect your scalp and hair withproducts that contain natural moisturizers and sun filters, likeInfusium 23 Leave-In Treatment ($4.49), says Anthony Sorensen, ahair stylist at the Warren-Tricomi Salon in New York City. For thebest protection, of course, don a hat.
Since shampooing can dry your hair, wash it every other day,Sorensen advises. Between washes, rinse hair thoroughly with water.Then, condition and style as usual. Color-treated hair, inparticular, requires shampoos and conditioners containing UVfilters and color boosters. Once a week, treat your mane to ahydrating therapy, such as Frederic Fekkai Protein Rx ReparativeTreatment Mask ($28.50).
To prevent blond or light-gray hair from turning green inchlorine, use a product that counteracts the chemical, like Redken SunShape Swim Cream ($12.95). To prevent dryness, apply a leave-inconditioner to wet hair before plunging into the pool, Sorensensays. After swimming, rinse hair, and use a shampoo that removeschlorine residue, such as UltraSwim Replenishing Shampoo($4.29).
Summer is the best time to go easy on styling, so use a productthat allows you to skip blow-drying, such as
John Frieda Frizz-Ease Dream Curls ($5.99). Work a little intocurly or wavy hair, and let it air-dry for a casual style.
If I forget to use sunscreen, how canI ease the pain of a sunburn?
"As soon as possible, take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory,like Aleve or Motrin, to prevent the progression of the burn,"advises Franks. To lessen mild swelling and irritation, use atried-and-true remedy: Apply a cool whole-milk compress to theaffected area. Hydrocortisone ointment can also reduce the swellingand itching of an extreme burn. Rehydrate your skin with amoisturizer containing cooling and healing ingredients likecucumber; try Jergens Skin Cooling Moisturizer ($4.99). Then, usehigh-SPF sunscreen every day to prevent future burns.