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dermatologist's 10 tips for summer skin care

Dermatologist’s 10 Top Tips for Best Summer Skin Care

Have radiant healthy glowing skin all summer with my dermatologist’s top 10 summer skin care tips. I love summer, and I also know that the climate, UV exposure and summer fashions will all impact your skin – for better or worse.

Have clear glowing skin during summer months by switching up your skin care for the season.

In my dermatology practice I’ve seen what works to keep skin healthy during summer. I also understand skin physiology and know what your skin needs from you to beat summer skin problems. Plus, you know that what feels good on your skin during the summer is different from what your skin loves and needs in the winter. That’s because outdoor activities, sweating and summer’s heat change the skin surface environment. You need to switch up your skin care for summer just like you switch up your wardrobe.

Focus on the 10 most important summer skin care changes to keep your skin looking and feeling great; expose glowing satiny smooth skin in shorts, tank tops, bathing suits and other skin baring summer clothing. Conquer summer skin problems and be proud of your complexion.

What are the top 4 products I recommend for your summer skin care tool chest?

sheer strength pure physical invisible spf 50 sunscreen

1. Pure mineral daily wear sunscreen that looks and feels good on your skin and stays put on slightly sweaty days (and also works great on hairy skin): Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen.

best pure mineral fragrance free sunscreen

2. Water resistant pure mineral sunscreen (fragrance and allergen free) for swimming, hiking, playing on a hot day and for kids and others that don't want to wear sun protective clothing (so they have tons of exposed skin to protect): Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 30 Water Resistant Sunscreen 

best summer Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy

3. The best facial antioxidant product to fight summer free radical skin damage - bar none: Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy

best ultra fast body smoothing skin care kit

4. Products that keep arm and leg skin looking good. Have silky, soft, flake-free skin on your arms, legs and feet: Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Triple Action Kit (the cleanser is also a favorite brightening facial cleanser) 

Here are the details and more options:

Top 10 tips for summer skin care from  dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey

1. Get your summer sun protection strategy perfected for daily protection and your summer outdoor plans.

The best sun protection combines UPF 50 clothing, mineral zinc oxide sunscreen and seeking the shade. It also means knowing when you are in intense UV settings and stepping up your protection to meet the challenge. - Dr. Bailey, Dermatologist

Invest in summer UPF clothing and cover as much skin as possible when you are outdoors.

Use garments to target heavy UV exposure sites such as a sun shirt that covers arms and chest, swim shirt and swim tights for swimming, gloves to protect the back of your hands, and a neck gaiter to protect your neck when you are hiking and spending prolonged time outdoors. 

dermatologist recommended sun hat

There are a lot of great brands that make fashionable UPF 50 options: Coolibar, Mott50, Cabana Life,  athletic brands like Title Nine, fashion brands like Garnet Hill.

Don't forget to create mobile shade with a really great hat. Click here to see the well-priced and easy to wear sun hat I personally use.

best summer skin care sunscreens

Apply the best broad spectrum mineral zinc oxide sunscreen with a high SPF to all exposed skin every day. My Sheer Strength Pure Physical Sunscreens are simply the best. - Dr. Bailey

I recommend:

Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen for everyone every day from scalp to toes. It is moderately water resistant and comes in an easy-to-use 4 oz. non-aerosol spray. It is weightless, non-greasy, works well into hairy skin and everyone loves it. Plus, it's absolutely invisible for all skin tones.

Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 50+ Creme Sunscreen for daily facial wear. Oil free but with a creamy feel that works well under makeup.

Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 30+ Refresh Powder Sunscreen to add over 3.2% iron oxide protection to fight visible light rays that can lead to uneven skin pigment problems such as melasma. It is also the ideal touch up sun protection in the middle of the day. Carry this in your purse or backpack.

Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 30+ Water Resistant Sunscreen for water sports, swimming and sweaty activities. This non-aerosol spray is economical, easy to use and packs well into your beach bag without making a greasy mess. 

Don’t forget ears, back of your neck, hands, legs, chest. Most people don’t put enough on and don’t reapply during extended time in the sun.

How much sunscreen do you need to apply?

  1. You need 1 ounce (a shot glass) if you are an average sized adult in a swim suit!
  2. About 1/3 tsp covers the average adult face. You need more for your neck, ears and your scalp (if it’s not densely hairy and/or covered with a hat).

You also need to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours while in the sun and after sweating, swimming or toweling dry. That’s a lot of work, which makes UPF 50 clothing a brilliant and convenient sun protection solution.

best powdered sunscreen with iron oxide

What is an easy way to reapply sunscreen if you wear makeup?

The dilemma of reapplying facial sunscreen after applying makeup in the morning is easily solved with a powder sunscreen. I call it SPF Refresh because both the FDA and I don’t think powder sunscreen is enough protection alone; apply a liquid mineral zinc oxide sunscreen first and refresh and boost protection with powder sunscreen during the day. It’s brilliant, convenient and looks great.

I strongly recommend you use only mineral sunscreens!

That’s because recent scientific studies have shown that the chemical sunscreen filters are absorbed quickly into your body through your skin and reach dangerously high levels.

Mineral sunscreen is the safest and most trustworthy sunscreen. I've strongly recommended it for over 20 years and am happy to see other experts now reaching the same conclusion. It is also more reef safe. - Dr. Baileybest summer skin care lip sunscreen

Don’t forget to sun protect delicate lips. We dermatologists always see more sun damage on the lower lip because people forget to use zinc oxide SPF containing lip balm. Again, use a mineral lip sunscreen and reapply it after drinking or eating as well as every 2 hours and after swimming etc.

Do Dr. Bailey Skin Care's Sunscreens contain benzene?

No! My sunscreens are rigorously tested throughout their production process, we use only pharmaceutically pure raw ingredients known to be benzene-free, and our lab never scrimps on any aspect of production. This is reflected in the price of my sunscreens; scrutiny and quality sourcing of ingredients is costly and I place the highest value on safety and integrity. Our health is simply too precious to cut corners. 

2. Invest in the best antioxidant skin care products to fight sun damage

Layer a really good antioxidant product on face, neck and chest skin between your cleansing and moisturizing step. Antioxidants slow skin damage and visible signs of skin aging by blocking free radicals. Free radicals form from UV exposure and from normal cellular function.

The best antioxidants for summer skin care include green tea and vitamin C. The devil is in the details though because antioxidants are tricky to stabilize and formulate into products that deliver on their promise. Plus, vitamin C can irritate sensitive skin. If you were to choose just one, I recommend green tea.  

best antioxidant for summer skin care
Green tea antioxidants need to be the EGCE polyphenol form and the higher the concentration the better.

Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy is formulated with the equivalent green tea EGCG polyphenols as found in 500 cups of brewed tea per ounce of cream. The cream has a slightly tan color because of the high concentration of tea in the formulation. If you were going to only add one product to your facial summer skin care routine, it should be this one!

summer skin care best antioxidants to fight sun damage

I created my SunSavvy Antioxidant Back Up for Your Sun Protection Kit to give you both of the top two proven antioxidants to fight sun damaged skin.

Pharmaceutical-grade high concentration green tea polyphenols and vitamin C are the best. All others are nice but these two are essential.

In summer, the big free radical concern is UV and adding antioxidants to your skin care routine can provide an extra layer of protection. 

Vitamin C needs to be the L-ascorbate form at 10% or higher formulated in an acid pH product of pH 3.5 or lower to help replenish skin collagen.

Unlike green tea, you want your vitamin C product to be clear to white. A tan color indicates inactivation of the vitamin C meaning it won’t benefit your skin. - Dermatologist and Skin Expert Dr. Cynthia Bailey

Why are antioxidants so important for summer skin care?

They add defense against UV damage meaning they are anti-carcinogenic and help to prevent collagen loss that leads to fine lines and wrinkles and skin thinning. They can be somewhat photo-protective, anti-bacterial and anti-viral.

  • Green tea can help fight facial redness and helps to reduce sebum and acne.
  • Vitamin C can help fight hyperpigmentation and age spots.
best antioxidants for summer skin care

Get both of the best antioxidants in my SunSavvy Antioxidant Backup for Your Sun Protection Kit. These products are made in an FDA regulated lab with pharmaceutically stable antioxidant formulations. Or, focus on one antioxidant: my popular Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy or Vitamin C Anti-Wrinkle Professional Treatment Serum.

Don't forget to also load your skin with antioxidants from a healthy diet.

best summer fruit for antioxidants

Load your body with antioxidants from the inside out. Summer is an easy time to eat the rainbow of antioxidants with summer ripe fruits and veggies. Hit the farmer’s market with your sun protection strategy well in place and enjoy the bounty of produce and weather that summer has to offer. - Dr. Bailey

summer skin care tip for smooth arm and leg skin

3. Use a glycolic acid body moisturizer for stunning, satiny and smooth body, arm and leg skin.

Glycolic acid changes the structure of your dead skin cell layer, compacting it to create a smoothing polished look and feel. Remove dull winter skin and let summer skin baring fashions reveal smooth, soft skin that glows with healthy sheen; prevent dull, rough, flakey skin with the simple use of a professional glycolic acid body lotion.

You need glycolic acid over 10% formulated in an acid pH of 4 or less to achieve this desirable goal. Most glycolic acid products don't offer this! - Dr. Bailey 

best way to get smooth summer skin

My Glycolic Acid Body Lotion does the trick. Use it at least twice a week. Adding a little physical exfoliation in the shower for those times when you want your skin to really glow will even increase results. Find the right routine in my Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Triple Action Kit.

4. Use retinol or tretinoin to help stop the enzymatic degradation of collagen by matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)

Even your best sun protection strategy will occasionally let some UV rays stray into your skin. This UV incursion starts an enzyme cascade that degrades precious skin collagen. The enzyme mechanism is called matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and you may have heard of it.

Using retinol at night turns off the MMP enzyme that breaks down skin collagen!

best summer skin care retinol to protect collagenIt’s true and it’s amazing. Keep using your retinol during the summer and fight collagen loss. But only when you are not planning excessive sun exposure. Stop retinol or tretinoin at least 2 weeks before you plan to be in the sun a lot. Resume your retinoid once the sunny adventure is over. Use a really good pharmaceutical-grade retinol for maximal benefits.

Every dermatologist I know uses a retinoid skin care product at night. I use my Retinol Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream year-round. - Dr. Bailey

5. Fight hyperpigmentation and uneven skin pigment if you are prone to it

fight summer skin hyperpigmentation and uneven skin pigmentPigment problems can last many years after the sun exposure is stopped. This means that prevention is really important if you suffer from pigment problems such as melasma, sun spots, hyperpigmentation of acne scars.

  • Use a high SPF broad spectrum mineral sunscreen protection and be really diligent about it.
  • Add additional pigment fighting measures such as sunscreen or makeup with over 3.2% iron oxide.

My top choice is Sheer Strength Pure Physical Matte Tinted SPF 50+ which has 4% iron oxide.

best facial zinc oxide sunscreen for summer pigment problemsbest non-nano zinc oxide powder sunscreen

Dust iron oxide minerals on top with Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF Refresh Powder Sunscreen or mineral makeup for additional iron oxide.

best pigment lightening skin care for summerAdd pigment lighteners to your skin care routine such as vitamin C serum, retinol, kojic acid, botanical pigment lighteners such as arbutin and bearberry, hydroquinone, azelaic acid and niacinamide. My Pigment Fading Pads give you kojic acid, arbutin, bearberry and hydroquinone to turn down the tyrosinase enzyme to fight hyperpigmentation during summer.

6. Lighten up your skin care products in warm humid and sweaty weather.

best non-drying facial toner for oily skinUse lighter base products such as your moisturizer, makeup and skin care products. Remove oil without drying skin with a witch hazel-based and rose hydrosol toner after cleanser to keep facial skin feeling clean. Summer humidity results in less moisture loss from skin so it makes sense that your skin craves lighter feeling products. Save the deeply hydrating and oil rich products for winter, lighten up in summer.

best serum for dry skin with hyaluronic acidThe one caveat is that if your summer is spent somewhere dry (think the desert), use hyaluronic acid and glycerin to hold moisture to skin. My top choice is my Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum with multiple molecular weight hyaluronic acid combined with glycerin and sodium PCA (part of skin’s natural moisturizing factor – NMF). It’s a light weight but high-tech solution for dehydrated skin.

7. Head off Pityrosporum folliculitis and summer acne

Pityrosporum folliculitis summer acne

Add a pyrithione zinc skin cleanser to control skin Pityrosporum yeast that contributes to fungal acne. This yeast flourishes behind pore clogging debris in humid and sweaty conditions. 

If you suffer from summer acne, fight pimples with my Pityrosporum Folliculitis Acne Kit that combats summer fungal acne. My kit combines the best ingredients to clean pores and combat acne-causing germs:

  • Fight summer fungal acne with this
    pyrithione zinc to fight the Pityrosporum yeast known to play a key role in causing this type of acne
  • salicylic acid (penetrates oily pores to bring other ingredients deep within the pore where acne starts),
  • glycolic acid (brightens skin and helps block up clogged pores and blackheads),
  • benzoyl peroxide (the best ingredient to kill the acne causing bacteria C. acnes).

If you already have an acne routine you like then just add the pyrithione zinc by using best face soap for fungal acne in summerCalming Zinc Soap once or twice a day to cleanse acne-prone skin. works well for cleansing face, back, neck and chest skin. These are areas prone to fungal acne. You also want to 

    It’s a simple skin care switch that can prevent summer pimples on chest, back, hairline, neck and face that comes with summer heat.

    back and chest acne in summer treatment tips

    Know that Pityrosporum folliculitis is a common cause of back and chest acne. Clear up back and chest acne with my Back Acne Kit . You can buy it alone or add it as an option to my facial Pityrosporum Folliculitis Kit. 

    Back Acne Skin Care Kit for summer

    8. Stop exfoliating 2 weeks before you expect intense sun exposure (aka sunny vacation)

    Exfoliating removes dead skin cells. These same dead cells help block UV rays. When you know your skin will be exposed to intense UV rays (think beach vacation, houseboating, camping etc.) leave the dead cells in place. There are 2 key points with exfoliation and summer:

    1. It takes 2 weeks to reform your dead cells (the stratum corneum).
    2. Exfoliate after your sunny get away to refresh dull skin.
    dermatologist's 10 top tips for summer skin care

    Yes, sun exposure will increase dull leathered skin texture because dead cells are one mechanism your skin has to protect itself. It’s why severely sun damaged skin is leathery and rough.

    Ditch the exfoliation before the sunny get away. You can resume it once your UV exposure is no longer intense.

    This includes physical exfoliation with scrubs and rough shower sponges, as well as chemical exfoliation. Chemical exfoliation is the type you get with retinoids (retinol and Retin A/tretinoin, and AHAs such as glycolic acid).

    9. Get a smart and healthy summer ‘sun-kissed’ glow that's 'dermatologist-approved'.

    We now know that tanning damages skin - for a lifetime! An afternoon spent tanning is a thing of the past for anyone who wants to keep their skin strong, healthy and attractive for years to come.

    Warm your skin tone the smart way by eating beta carotene rich foods.

    This gives you a warm summer glow within days. Scientific studies have even shown that a beta carotene glow is perceived as more attractive than the ashy brown color of a sun tan. Click here to see the foods rich in beta carotene.

    For a quick bronze glow, add a self-tanner.

    Apply it to skin you have prepared using my tips for Applying Self-Tanner like a pro. Know that dihydroxyacetone, the ingredient in self-tanners that bronzes skin, provides no sun protection. My personal favorite self-tanner is Avene Self-Tanner. I find it has a nice thin feel that I can apply comfortably under my Glycolic Acid Body Lotion. It also does not have a heavy perfume trying to cover the characteristic odor of dihydroxyacetone. 

    Are people right when they say you need sun to get enough vitamin D?

    summer skin care and vitamin d supplements

    Don’t let anyone chide you into using vitamin D as an excuse for a getting a tan. That’s a fast track to wrinkles and job security for dermatologists. Take vitamin D3 supplements and protect your precious skin from fine lines and wrinkles, age spots, crepey, thinning leather-textured skin. Be that smart person whose skin looks timelessly great over the years. If you need more info to help you fend off these tanning addicted folks, read my vitamin D article here. 

    10. Know how to fix summer skin problems

    Click here for my tips to tackle the most common summer skin problems:

    1. athletes’ foot,
    2. skin fold redness (intertrigo),
    3. poison oak and ivy and,
    4. bug bites.

    These problems can be summer skin spoilers. Get a dermatologist’s insider tips without a trip into the office.

    Enjoy summer with glowing, clear, healthy skin when you switch up your skin care routine for the balmy weather and skin baring fashions of summer.