Summer is here and that means it’s time to throw off the outerwear, to show off the skin beneath. Many of us are discovering skin that has gotten dry and dull over the winter, says Robert Shoss, a New York-based dermatologist. Winter can take its toll on skin, says Allison Mackie, representative at New York’s Orlo School of Hair Design and Cosmetology. “Your skin is pale and flaky,” Mackie says, adding, “It may be a little mushier from all that time being a couch potato—or even a little dimply.”
To transform winter-wear to spring-bare, adopt a skincare regimen that includes cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection formula, Shoss says. Choose a sun protection with an SPF of at least 30, and be sure to apply it 20 to 30 minutes before sun exposure, he says. Mackie’s recipe for revived skin is simple: “Exfoliate, moisturize, and a little self-tanner looks really good.”
When it comes to tans, both Shoss and Mackie suggest skipping the tanning booths and beds, and going right for the self-tanners. “A tan, by definition, is damaged skin,” Shoss says. “Tan skin is just a reaction to an injury.” When you must be in the sun, wear sunscreen, but keep in mind that even sunscreen can’t protect you from extended exposure to sun, he says. Here are some tips for baring your best skin:
Exfoliate: Mackie advises using a washcloth, loofah or brush to remove dead skin. These help skin look smoother and make it absorb moisture.
Moisturize: Keep skin feeling soft by moisturizing with the right product. Pick a light lotion for the face and neck, but choose a heavier cream for hairy skin, Shoss says. Use cream on the hands and the soles of the feet.
Achieve smooth (hairless) skin: Depending on your budget, you have a range of different hair removal options to choose from, from good old shaving to waxing to laser hair removal. Waxing is less expensive, but you have to do it more often to stay smooth, Mackie says. Laser is expensive, but lasts much longer. When shaving, spring for the shaving cream, which helps you get a smoother, more consistent shave, she says .
Mild cleansing: As weather gets hot and sticky, we need to wash more, but keep cleansing gentle. Shoss advises: “A lot of people think you need to scrub away the sweat, but all you do is irritate the skin, and that can lead to flare-ups.”
More skincare tips
Discard old, used beauty products: Because people may transfer bacteria from their fingers to pots of face cream, possibly leading to the growth of micro-organisms, some dermatologists recommend discarding products one year after opening them. Because micro-organisms may also grow in mascara tubes, creating the risk of eye infection, experts recommend replacing mascara three months after opening it.
Stop smoking: What’s good for your lungs may also have positive effects on your skin. “You often see vertical wrinkles above the lip, where smokers pucker, and lines around the eyes because smokers tend to squint to keep the smoke out,” says Hema A. Sundaram, a dermatologist in Rockville, Maryland.
Leave those pimples alone: For those who can’t help squeezing their pimples, think again. “People think they are squeezing something bad out, but they could be pushing bacteria deeper into their skin, creating an infection,” says Bradford R. Katchen, a dermatologist in Manhattan.
More sleep, less stress: “Studies have shown that the skin of people under chronic stress will heal more slowly,” says Ladan Mostaghimi, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Stress can contribute to flare-ups of alopecia areata, a form of hair loss, and skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
Wear sunscreen: Studies show that regular use of sunscreen can impede the development of squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. But dermatologists encourage patients to make sunscreen a habit for another purpose: vanity. Sunscreen use may inhibit sun-induced changes to the skin’s pigment and texture. Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or Mexoryl SX, ingredients that work against both the sun’s longer-and shorter-length rays.
©2008/ The New York Times