During summer months, skin is faced with unique challenges. Not only does skin dry out in the heat, it can also be damaged by the sun if care is not taken. See our tips below for keeping skin healthy this summer: Moisturizing The Right Way, New Sunscreen Regulations From The FDA, and More Sun Protection Tips.
Moisturizing The Right Way
Keeping skin healthy in summer heat involves doing some things and not doing others when bathing or showering, when choosing and applying a moisturizer, when choosing clothing, and when spending time outdoors. The following tips can help you prevent red, itchy, cracked, dry skin.
Water and soap can rob skin of natural oils and cause flaky, dry skin. When showering or bathing:
- Use a mild soap or cleanser that is free of irritating fragrance, dyes, and chemicals.
- Avoid deodorant and antibacterial soaps and shampoos.
- Remember your scalp is skin, too, so choose shampoos and other hair care products that are free of added fragrances, dyes, and irritating chemicals.
- Spend no more than 5 to 15 minutes in the bath or shower.
- Use warm, not hot, water.
- Pat dry; do not rub vigorously to dry.
Applying the right moisturizer in the right way keeps skin from becoming too dry.
- Choose a moisturizer that is free of added fragrances, dyes, and irritating chemicals.
- Apply moisturizer generously while skin is still damp after bathing or showering.
- Apply moisturizer to hands after each washing.
- During the day, apply moisturizer from time to time when skin begins to feel or look dry.
- The American Academy of Dermatology recommends moisturizers that contain oil such as olive oil or jojoba oil or Shea butter. The ADA also favors moisturizers containing ingredients that help to soothe dry skin such as lactic acid and urea, hyaluronic acid,dimethicone, glycerin, lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum.
- When hands are suffering, it can be helpful to apply moisturizer at bedtime and sleep in cotton gloves.
It makes sense that clothes affect your skin since your clothing is constantly touching your skin.
- Choose fabrics that are smooth. Avoid fabrics such as linen and wool that can cause irritation, itching, and redness.
- Wash clothing and bedding in a laundry detergent that is free of fragrances, dyes, and irritating chemicals.
New Sunscreen Regulations From The FDA
New regulations have been established by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for sunscreen labels. This will allow consumers to make an informed choice by comparing labels on sunscreens. The new rules from the FDA regarding sunscreen labels are:
- Sunscreen products that are not broad spectrum or that are broad spectrum with SPF values from 2 to14 will be labeled with a warning that reads: "Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."
- Water resistance claims on the product's front label must tell how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Two times will be permitted on labels: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.
- Manufacturers cannot make claims that sunscreens are "waterproof" or "sweatproof" or identify their products as "sunblocks." Also, sunscreens cannot claim protection immediately on application (for example, "instant protection") or protection for more than two hours without reapplication, unless they submit data and get approval from FDA.
Broad spectrum means a sunscreen protects the skin from both UVA and UVB radiation which is important because both types damage the skin, cause signs of aging, increase the chance of cataracts or other eye problems, suppress the skin's immune system, and lead to skin cancer. The American Cancer Society describes the difference in this way:
- UVA rays age cells and can damage cells' DNA. They are linked to long-term skin damage such as wrinkles, but are also thought to play a role in some skin cancers.
- UVB rays can directly damage DNA, and are the main rays that cause sunburns. They are also thought to cause most skin cancers.
The words "Broad Spectrum" can be put on a sunscreen label if there is protection for UVA and UVB rays according to a new test required by the FDA. The SPF or sun protection factor number refers to how long you can stay in the sun without burning. For example, if you stay in the sun without sunscreen and burn in 10 minutes, then you should be able to stay in the sun using a sunscreen with a rating of SPF 15 for 150 minutes without burning. However, there are other factors that play a part. If you are in and out of water or sweating, the time before burning is reduced. Also, the amount of sunscreen applied makes a difference. Sunscreen should be applied liberally every two hours or immediately after swimming or heavy sweating. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you "apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside".
There are also some changes in claims that are no longer allowed by the FDA. Sunscreens cannot put the words "waterproof", "sweatproof", or "sunblock" on their labels. Sunscreen can claim to be "water resistant" if it protects for 40 minutes or 80 minutes of swimming and sweating. You will no longer see an SPF rating of more than 50. It will now say 50+ since the FDA says that there is no evidence that sunscreens with SPF's of over 50 are any more effective than ones with a rating of 50.
- Stay out of the sun from 10am to 4pm when the sun's rays are the strongest.
- Look for shade when you are outside for long periods of time.
- Wear clothing to cover your skin and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears, neck, and scalp.
- Use an SPF15 lip protectant.
- Remember the sun's UVA rays can penetrate clouds and glass, so be sure to use sunscreen on cloudy days and sitting beside windows indoors or in a vehicle, too.
- Wear dark glasses with UV protection.
- Use sunscreen and take other precautions all year round.
To keep your skin healthy in summer, use moisturizer to keep skin from becoming dry, flaky, and even painful. For sun protection, sunscreen is critical but there are other ways to prevent overexposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays. Read the labels on sunscreens and choose one that is broad spectrum with an SPF of 15 or more, and apply it generously and often.