By now we all know that sun exposure can cause problems for our skin. What people often overlook, however, is the fact that the heat generated by that giant ball of radiation in the sky can itself have adverse effects.
In many ways, I actually think summer is tougher on our skin than any other season. Winter gets a bad rap (and certainly comes with its own set of challenges), but I see summer causing such a wide range of skin problems for people. And heat is the main cause of many of them.
Read on for five ways the summer heat could be causing problems for your skin (and my solutions, of course!).
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Most people associate dry skin with cold winter air and 24-hour heaters. In reality, hot summer temperatures are just as likely to strip moisture from your skin! Heat increases water loss. So unless you live in a very humid environment, it can cause your skin to tighten. To top it off, the constant rush of AC acts as an additional source of dehydration.
In addition to tight skin, visible fine lines are another sign of dehydration. Dehydration aggravates these and makes them appear more prominent.
When you’re out and about in the heat of the day, there’s not always much you can do to prevent this moisture loss. I definitely recommend using a hydrating vitamin C serum in the morning followed by a hydrating sunscreen, but the real work gets done during your evening routine. Use these three products to keep your skin hydrated (without breaking out) all summer long.
Read the difference between dry and dehydrated skin.
2. Increased sensitivity
When our skin dries out, it can result in a damaged moisture barrier. When the moisture barrier – which protects our skin from external influences – is disturbed, we experience increased skin sensitivity. For example, skin care products that you normally use can suddenly start burning. This is because when the moisture barrier is broken, tiny, invisible cracks appear in the skin. These tears allow things to penetrate the skin in ways they normally wouldn’t, exposing your nerve endings, hence the stinging. You may also experience redness, itching, or a rough skin feel.
When dealing with summer skin sensitivity, the first step is to rehydrate the skin in the manner outlined above. Second, keep it simple. Cut back on overly active ingredients and extra steps in your routine and just stick to the basics—that’s a cleanser, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen. If you want to add a treatment product, I love the Redness Care Firming Serum. Not only is it deeply hydrating, but it is also soothing and soothing, which can correct redness and sensitivity.
If you’re prone to redness and sensitivity, check out skin types 5 and 9. Both contain products with ingredients designed to treat these issues.
Read how to tell if your moisture barrier is broken (and what to do about it!).
3. More visible capillaries
Speaking of redness, summer is no friend to those of us who are prone to broken veins! When people talk about “broken capillaries,” they’re really referring to dilated capillaries. Heat causes our capillaries to expand and when they do, they accommodate more blood flow. It’s what causes some of us to have red or flushed skin when it’s hot outside. After expanding, our capillaries are designed to shrink back to their normal size. Repeat this process often enough, however, and they lose their ability to recover. Once the capillaries are permanently dilated, they remain visible beneath the skin’s surface.
So what can you do about it? Of course, when it’s hot outside, there’s only so much we can do to avoid it. If you’re prone to broken capillaries, my best advice is to avoid additional heat as much as possible. That means no scalding hot showers, steam baths, hot yoga, etc. It may also be beneficial to take a vitamin C supplement with bioflavonoids, as this can help strengthen blood vessels.
Read 7 ways to prevent broken capillaries.
4. Aggravated hyperpigmentation
I’ve talked about it a lot, but that’s because it’s so often overlooked. Heat is as big a culprit as sun exposure when it comes to hyperpigmentation. That means you could spend all day in the shade, wearing a hat, and putting on sunscreen, but when it’s hot outside and your internal temperature rises, pigment cells are still triggered.
Fighting hyperpigmentation is an uphill battle, and it’s normal for us to see a little more of it as we age, as pigment cells rise to the surface over time. If there are enough of them, they can cluster together. In this case we see brown spots and uneven skin tone. (If this sounds like your main concern, you may be a skin type 8!)
Luckily, there are a few ways you can fight back against hyperpigmentation. First of all, it goes without saying that you should avoid direct sunlight and overheating of the skin as much as possible. Also, use a vitamin C serum every day and a broad spectrum sunscreen (apply often outdoors). Tinted mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide have been found to be particularly effective at reducing hyperpigmentation, but at the end of the day, wear whatever sunscreen you’re comfortable with. Consistency is the key!
Read How to get rid of sunspots in summer.
5. Increased oil production
Regardless of your skin type, heat can increase your skin’s oil production. For some, this means an increase in clogged pores and breakouts. This is especially true if you’re also dealing with the summertime dehydration I mentioned (yes, your skin can be both oily and dehydrated!). When this happens, excess oil gets trapped beneath dry, expired cells, increasing the likelihood that you’ll develop clogged pores and blemishes. (This is just one of the most common causes of summer breakouts.)
In addition, increased oil flow can expand the walls of your pores. This stretches your pores and makes them appear larger. Regulating oil flow is just one of the ways to minimize the occurrence of large pores.
One method I recommend to combat oily summer skin is to switch to a low-sudsing cleanser in the morning. I love something like AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleansers. It removes excess oil without being harsh and contains both beta and alpha hydroxy acids to help penetrate sebum. Pro tip: leave the cleanser on your skin for a minute or two before washing it off. This gives the active ingredients some time to work and become more powerful!
Finally, you should absolutely avoid switching to harsh, drying products with ingredients like sulfates or drying alcohols. These will overly tax the skin and have the opposite of the desired effect by actually increasing oil production.
There you have it, five of the most common hot weather skin problems I see and how to fix them! I hope these tips will help you keep your skin looking great so that all you have to worry about this summer is finding fun ways to beat the heat. As you can see in the picture above taken at Lady Bird Lake in Austin, I love getting close to water to cool off as much as possible!
Next, learn how to combat annoying breakouts on your back and chest.
Famous beautician and skincare expert
An esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skincare expert has created a real solution – products formulated for nine different skin types to give your face exactly what it needs to look and feel good. Celebrities, editors, bloggers and skincare enthusiasts around the world trust her extensive real-world knowledge and ongoing research. Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”