Summer will soon be here in full force, which means many of us will be spending more time outside, at barbecues, on vacation, in swimming pools and on sunbeds. It all feels great, but in between the hot dogs and the water slides, it can be easy to forget that for the rest of the year, your skin is pretty much hidden away from the outside world.

Burning, itchy, irritated skin are common problems during the summer months, and without the proper protection, overexposure to the sun can lead to dangerous, potentially fatal skin cancers. Fortunately, all of the aforementioned are totally avoidable, if you’re smart, and if you take some precautions to protect yourself before, during and after your time in the sun.

A beautiful young woman looking at her face in the mirrorImage Credit

Here are our top tips for staying safe and comfortable this summer, while still being able to take full advantage of the warmer months.

Monitor your time in direct sunlight

This is the first, most obvious and easiest way to stay safe in the sun. Of course, the sun is going to be strongest around the middle of the day, so if you’re out then, make sure that you’re covered up somehow (we’ll come to that later), and try to take regular breaks in the shade.

You might feel like you never want to leave the sunshine once you’re in it, but believe us, if you overdo it, you’ll regret it later on when the headaches and painful skin start to appear. As a general rule of thumb, for every hour you spend in the sun, try and spend 15 minutes inside or under shelter.

Wear sunscreen (SPF 45+)

Another one your parents probably spent a lot of time badgering you about, sunscreen is important for a couple of reasons. First off, it helps to protect your skin against damaging UV rays. We know, you’re stoked about getting a beautiful bronze tan, but when it comes at the cost of possible skin cancer, slowing down and applying sunscreen is just smart, you know? We recommend a sunscreen with sun protection factor of 45 of above. And FYI, a t-shirt probably won’t cut it if you’re going to be spending time in the sun. A plain white t-shirt has a SPF of just 4!

Also, the swimming pool is not an effective substitute for sunscreen, and in fact, may increase your exposure to UV rays. Bottom line: always wear sunscreen if you’re going to be spending a reasonable amount of time in the sun. You’ll still get a nice tan, only without having to worry about melanomas.

Another reason sunscreen is so important is that it helps to stop your skin from drying out. Many sunscreensare dry-touch, too, meaning they don’t feel sticky or greasy. No excuses anymore, boys and girls!

Stay hydrated – Drink more (Non-Alcoholic drinks) than you think you should

When it’s hot out, you need to drink more than you normally would. Even if you’re not exercising or doing anything that strenuous, you’ll sweat more, and if you’re drinking alcohol as well, you’ll be more dehydrated than usual, so drinking a small glass of water for every two beers or glasses of wine is a great idea. Drinking more will also help to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy and plump, and not like the old leather purse you’ll end up like if you ignore this advice.

If you get a bit bored with drinking water then a great way to mix it up is to use a soda stream machine. With the do it yourself home models you can create a wide variety of healthy, and not so healthy, drinks. There are a wide variety of home soda makers available so there is no excuse to get dehydrated this summer.

Exfoliate and moisturize in the evening

Inevitably, your skin probably will get a little dry and red. If you’re at the beach, chances are it’ll get a bit salty, too, and so taking care of your body’s biggest organ should be a priority once the evening rolls around.

Start with a warm shower, then, using a natural pumice stone and/or a natural exfoliating wash, start to remove all of the dry, dead skin that’s formed throughout the day. A quality moisturizer is the next essential step to restoring your skin to its former glory, and getting it ready for another day of full-on summer. We love anything coconut oil based, but moisturizers with shea butter are also great for summertime skin soothing.

Get plenty of sleep

This one applies to year-round healthy skin, but it’s perhaps especially relevant during the summer, when parties can go on long into the night. Tired, dull-looking skin are often the result of you not getting enough sleep. If you’re feeling like your skin isn’t looking its best, and you’ve tried all of the interventions and preventions mentioned in this article, then getting a little bit more shut-eye could be all you need.

To recap:

  • Monitor time in direct sunlight — take regular breaks (15 minutes for every hour or so in the sun)
  • Wear sunscreen — dry-touch, SPF 45+
  • T-shirts and pools don’t count — you still need to wear sunscreen
  • Drink plenty of water — supplement beer and wine with water
  • Exfoliate and moisturize — proper aftercare is essential
  • Get plenty of sleep — recharge your skin

Summer is a time to get outside, enjoy the world and spend time with friends and family. Part of being able to do that year after year, though, involves being smart with how you take care of your skin during the hot months. Don’t leave anything to chance, and don’t think that it won’t happen to you, just be smart, be safe, and have fun.