Summer Skin Care: 10 Steps to Glowing Skin
By Sheri Westenberg, CAHP®, PMP®
It’s almost officially summer, a time when the sun’s rays warm your skin, flowers bloom in our gardens, and music fills the air. I love this sun-drenched season! However, amidst summer delight, this season presents a unique set of challenges that can impact the health and appearance of your skin, both today and in the years to come. But fear not, because this month we have the secrets to keeping your skin nourished, protected, and radiant all summer long.
Beautiful skin begins by knowing the structure and composition of the skin’s layers, as well as its functions.
One of the skin’s main functions is to protect your inner organs from harm. But that's not all—your skin is an avid learner, absorbing essential fatty acids, vitamins, and salts to sustain its vitality. As an organ of excretion, the skin assists your body in eliminating toxins.. It helps to regulate body temperature and let's not forget its incredible sensitivity, allowing you to experience the world through the sense of touch. The skin also plays a vital role in synthesizing vitamin D to support your overall well-being.
The structure of the skin is made up of a number of layers which serve different functions. The main three layers to be aware of are listed below.
The epidermis, or outermost layer, is made up of five sublayers, including the stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and stratum corneum. The epidermis plays a vital role in safeguarding our skin from external threats and maintaining its overall health.
We’ll begin at the bottom layer as skin cells move upward through the process of maturation, until they reach the top where they are meant to flake off. This is why we exfoliate.
The stratum basale forms the base layer of the epidermis and is responsible for the continuous renewal of epidermal cells. The cells in this layer are connected to a blood supply and can reproduce. The cells are pushed upward towards the surface where they eventually become dead skin cells due to lack of nourishment. In this layer, half of our cells stay to continuously help replenishment and the other half begin to move up into the next layer and change. The stratum basale also houses melanocytes, specialized cells responsible for producing melanin—the pigment that gives our skin its color. Additionally, melanin acts as a natural defense against harmful UV rays, shielding our skin from their damaging effects.
The next layer up is the stratum spinosum. Cells in this layer begin to synthesize keratin.
Cells continue to move up through to the next layer of skin called the stratum ganulosum. Here, keratinocyte cells make and fill up with keratin. Keratin is essential for the formation of skin, hair, and nails. To promote optimal keratin production, it's important to avoid using harsh detergents or over-cleansing the skin, as these practices can disrupt the natural balance and harm the skin's ability to produce this crucial protein.
In The stratum lucidum, cells continue to move upward, flatten and dehydrate. They continue to move up to the next layer.
Shielding your skin at the forefront of the epidermis lies the stratum corneum, composed of dry, dead skin cells. These cells form a protective barrier that shields us from dehydration and harmful microbes. The stratum corneum undergoes a continuous renewal process, shedding itself and revealing fresher, more vibrant skin approximately every 30 days. You can aid this natural rejuvenation by using gentle exfoliation techniques, which encourage the unveiling of healthier skin beneath the surface.
The middle layer of the skin is the dermis. It contains nerve endings, hair follicles, sebaceous glands and sweat glands, muscle fibres and lymph vessels. The dermis stores electrolytes and water. The dermis supplies nourishment from the body to the skin cells. The dermis is made up of collagen fibres and elastin, which are responsible for skin strength and elasticity and thus your skin’s youthfulness.
Blood vessels of the dermis help to regulate body temperature. Blood vessels constrict with cold to help keep heat in while blood vessels dilate and allow circulation near the surface for heat release.
The hypodermis or subcutaneous skin layer is located between the dermis and the tissues and organs. It is made up of adipose tissue that stores energy as fat and helps to insulate the body from heat and cold.
What is your skin type?
Let’s help you plan your skincare routine for your skin’s specific need by identifying your skin type below.
Dry, Mature Skin
A few causes of dry skin are lack of water in the layers of the skin, or difficulty in utilizing fatty acids resulting in the skin not producing enough of its own natural sebum. In addition, as we age we lose the components that help prevent water loss. Carrier oils have skin loving properties such as anti-inflammatories. They can help with fine lines and wrinkles, and help to replenish important fatty acids.
Great carrier oils for this skin type are avocado, carrot seed, evening primrose, pomegranate, rosehip, sesame, and sunflower seed oil. Give yourself a face massage when applying your skin care to encourage circulation.
People with sensitive skin may also have eczema, psoriasis, or other skin concerns. It is important to not strip this skin type. Try shopping for cleansers and face moisturizers that are gentle and nourishing. Great carrier oils for this skin type are calendula, jojoba, hemp seed oil, and apricot kernel oil.
It may sound counterintuitive to use oils on oily skin, but oily skin still needs oily fatty acids for optimum skin health. When natural sebum is overproduced, oily skin occurs. Your skin might be compensating for moisture that it doesn’t think is there. Adding oils to your skin allows your skin to relax on the sebum production resulting in less oily skin. It may be tempting to cleanse this skin type, but it is important to not strip natural oils by over cleansing. Great carriers for this skin type are grapeseed, jojoba, argan, evening primrose, and borage.
This skin type is both oily and dry. We often refer to the T zone on the face to illustrate oily and dry places. Combination skin could be hormonal, or it could be due to your current skin care routine. Your skin may benefit from facial massage or a facial steam. Carriers that are good for this skin type include jojoba, evening primrose, rosehip, and argan.
Skin health can be affected by many factors. Here are ten great summer skin care tips to get your self care skin routine back on track.
10 Steps to Glowing Skin
Increase Your Water Intake
Make sure that you are drinking enough water to compensate for summer water loss. Trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) happens when water is evaporating through the skin. Need help drinking more water? Here are a few helpful hints. Keep a water bottle beside you. You will sip more water if it is within reach. Or, get a water bottle with measurements on it. I find it challenging to know how many glasses of water I’ve had in a day. If this is you too, having a bottle that already gives you measurements takes the strain off of counting. Fill this bottle and keep track of the number of bottles that you should drink each day. That way you only need to know to drink two bottles of water instead of 8 glasses.
Water is essential for maintaining hydrated and supple skin. During the summer, increased perspiration and exposure to heat can lead to dehydration. Make it a priority to drink plenty of water throughout the day to replenish lost fluids and maintain your skin's moisture balance. Hydrated skin not only looks radiant but also helps defend against dryness and premature aging.
Keep Track of Sun Exposure
Soaking up the sun has its benefits; however, prolonged and unprotected sun exposure can wreak havoc on your skin. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to sunburn, premature aging, and even skin cancer. Be mindful of spending time outdoors during peak sun hours, usually between 10 am and 4 pm. Seek shade, and wear protective clothing to shield your skin from harmful UV radiation.
Wear Your Sunscreen
If you must be in the sun use sunscreen. Make it part of your daily routine. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher generously to all exposed areas of your skin. Remember to reapply every two hours, especially if you're sweating or swimming. Sunscreen forms a protective barrier, reducing the risk of sunburn, skin damage, and skin cancer caused by UV rays.
Use a Tinted Moisturizer with SPF
In addition to standalone sunscreens, consider incorporating cosmetics and skincare products that contain SPF into your routine. From moisturizers to foundations, many products now offer added sun protection. Look for "SPF" on product labels and choose cosmetics with at least SPF 30 to provide an extra layer of defense against harmful sun rays. While foundation with SPF isn’t strong enough to be used on its own as a sunscreen, make sure you are adding the step of a dedicated sunscreen before your makeup routine. The sun UV rays affect skin aging dramatically. Don’t forget that this includes cloudy days. UV rays still get through.
Gently Cleanse Your Skin in Summer
Proper cleansing is vital for maintaining healthy skin during summer. Sweating and increased oil production can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Cleanse your skin twice a day using a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser to remove dirt, excess oil, and impurities. This helps prevent blemishes and allows your skin to breathe, promoting a fresh and clear complexion. Don’t wash your face too much though. Over washing or over exfoliating can be damaging to your skin creating the opposite effect from what you are trying to achieve.
Follow Up Your Cleansing Routine with Moisturizer
Don't let the summer heat fool you into thinking your skin doesn't need moisture. Hydrating your skin with a lightweight moisturizer helps maintain its elasticity, balance, and overall health.
It’s important to know your ingredients. If you can’t pronounce it, maybe you shouldn’t use it. If you are buying or making moisturizer, spend some time understanding the ingredient list. Look for products that contain ingredients which lock in moisture without feeling heavy on the skin. Let our handy skin type guide above help you out!
Get Your Beauty Rest
Many people are familiar with the term rest and digest, but what about rest and repair? Quality sleep is essential for overall well-being, and it directly affects your skin's health. During sleep, your body repairs and regenerates skin cells, making it a crucial time for skin rejuvenation. Take advantage of this time as part of your skin care routine. If you have trouble falling asleep, a few tips to help you out include:
- Stop eating and drinking anything but water 3 hours before bedtime
- Make sure the room is dark enough
- Stop using electronics 30-60 minutes before bedtime
- Read, write, listen to soft music, meditate, or stretch gently
- If your mind is racing, write with a pen and paper
- Listen to a sleep talk down meditation
Aim for 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to enhance your skin's natural healing process and wake up with a refreshed and radiant complexion.
You Are What You Eat
What goes in must come out. A nourishing diet plays a crucial role in achieving healthy skin. Load up on antioxidant-rich foods, fruits, and vegetables to provide your body with essential nutrients that support skin health. Vitamins A, C, and E, along with omega-3 fatty acids, help protect your skin from free radicals, promote collagen production, and maintain a youthful appearance. Remember, your skin is an organ of excretion. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary and processed foods, as they can contribute to skin inflammation, breakouts and more skin concerns.
Be Kind, Please Unwind
Okay, I’m showing my age here, but I can’t help but think of the words from Blair Warner in The Facts of Life saying, “Worrying makes oil and oil makes mountains.” Stress causes oxidation, poor sleep, poor digestion and may make you stop caring for your skin as much as you used to, or even caring for your skin altogether. Find healthy ways to manage stress. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Enjoy a walk outside. Taking time for yourself, engaging in hobbies, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance can significantly reduce stress levels, promoting a healthier complexion.
Get Your Skin Glowing with Exercise
Regular exercise benefits not only your body and your mood but also your skin. Engaging in physical activity boosts circulation, which promotes the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells. This increased blood flow helps nourish the skin and gives it a radiant glow.
Exercise helps digestion and can help to improve sleep. It encourages detoxification as you sweat. It helps to increase your energy level and self confidence. Remember to cleanse your skin after workouts to remove sweat and impurities that can clog pores. If exercise is challenging for you, start small and work your way up to a longer routine.
The summer season is here. Now is the time to prioritize your skin's health by focusing on these ten essential areas. Proper hydration, sun protection, cleansing, moisturizing, and nourishing your body with a nutritious diet all contribute to radiant and healthy skin. Managing stress levels and incorporating exercise into your routine further enhances your skin's appearance and overall well-being. By paying attention to these areas, you'll enjoy a summer full of vibrant and glowing skin, ensuring your beauty shines as bright as the summer sun.
About the author: Sheri Westenberg is the founder of Standing Stone Wellness, an award-winning toxin-free aromatherapy skin care company, that harnesses the power of natural ingredients to pamper all skin types and enhance overall wellbeing. She is a Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional® (CAHP), Reiki practitioner and nutrition enthusiast. Sheri served on the CFA board of directors for four years, the last two of which she served as the CFA president. Her happy place is anywhere there is a serene lake surrounded by trees.