Our skin and how we look after it is incredibly important. After all, our skin is our largest organ. However, with over 3,000 possible skin disorders and often conflicting advice from different skincare brands and organisations, it can often be very overwhelming to look after. Not only this, but with summer in full swing, we now have sun protection and fake tans to consider.
So, where do you begin?
Sunburn and how it damages the skin
First of all, let’s talk about the actual damage that the sun can do to your skin. We all know that sunburn is bad, and often incredibly painful, but did you know that even a small colour change in your skin because of the sun is an indication that cell damage, that could ultimately lead to skin cancer, has taken place?
Not only could overexposure of the sun and tanning lead to skin cancer, but it increases the rate at which our skin ages. This is because, over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag and stretch, and it loses its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily, and will take longer to heal. So although you may not see any apparent sun damage when you’re young, it could appear later in life.
Now, we’re not saying that you should never step outside in the summer ever again. In fact, the sun does actually have some amazing benefits to your health in general. For example, it lifts your mood by increasing your serotonin levels, and stimulates your body to produce more vitamin D, both of which are essential for optimal health. So, like most things, it’s all about balance – you definitely need some sun, just not too much.
5 products to keep your skin healthy this summer
There are many ways to look after your skin from sun damage, including limiting sun exposure and ensuring you wear a good SPF. Here are some of our favourite products that could help to keep your skin safe and glowing:
L’Oreal Paris Hydra Genius Aloe Moisturiser 70ml (£6.66 at Boots)
During the summer, your skin loses a lot of its moisture through sweating, so moisturising daily is essential to take care of your skin during the summer months. This L’Oreal moisturiser is inspired by Asian skincare, and delivers moisture that absorbsquickly and continuously – without being heavy, sticky, or overloading the skin. Most importantly, it contains aloe vera juice, which is famous for its natural sun protection properties. It can reflect as much as 20% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, and helps to provide much needed moisture at the same time.
Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer™ Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 90ml (£29.00)
The skincare and beauty brand Drunk Elephant is extremely popular due to its ethical philosophy of all of its products being completely cruelty free and non-toxic. Now this great brand has delivered a perfect sunscreen to use this summer, that delivers a powerful and broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. It’s also packed with sunflower sprout extract, raspberry seed oil, aloe vera, and algae extract. All of these antioxidant ingredients help to aid in the prevention of free radical and oxidative damage, as well as photoaging, for a more youthful-looking and glowing complexion.
The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants 50ml (£8.90)
For a more affordable, and vegan, suncare option, you can always opt for this one from The Ordinary. Just like Drunk Elephant, this brand has been gaining popularity for some time due to its cruelty free and very transparent ethos. All of its products are exactly as is named on the tin, with no flowery descriptors to hide what they really contain. A bio-active antioxidant network, bio-sugar complex, skin-identical lipids, and Tasmanian pepperberry, are the technologies used in this sunscreen to provide SPF protection along with antioxidant, hydration, and anti-irritant support.
PHB Ethical Beauty Superfood Skin Tonic with Vitamin C and Kojic Acid 100ml (£20.00)
This great tonic from the completely vegan, cruelty free, palm-oil free and British-made brand PHB Ethical Beauty is perfect for the summer because of its amazing ingredients. The vitamin C is rich in antioxidants, and targets signs of aging, dullness and UV damage. While the kojic acid is a natural skin brightener and reduces the appearance of dark spots that may appear from too much sun exposure.
Sun Bum Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 30 (£3.99 available at Amazon
When thinking about summer skincare, you can’t forget your lips! This lip balm from the beach-ready Californian company Sun Bum is totally vegan, cruelty free and gluten free, and contains both aloe vera and vitamin E, to protect your lips from the sun while moisturising them too. It even comes in seven different flavours, from coconut to key lime, so there’s bound to be one you’ll love.
One top tip for when you’re buying any sunscreen products, we learned from Instagram “skinfluencer” Emma Hoareau. She recommends avoiding any sunscreens that contain benzophenone, octinoxate, and octocrylene.
These chemicals are used in sunscreens to absorb the dangerous UV rays of the sun, however they actually disrupt the skin’s hormones and irritate it. They are also not at all environmentally friendly, because they are bleach coral reefs when they get into the sea, such as through someone swimming in the sea with this on their skin. Coral reefs are currently very endangered and are essential for all sea-life, so it’s incredibly important that they’re protected.
Emma recommends we instead purchase sunscreens that use either zinc oxide or titanium oxide as their UV ray absorber, as these are environmentally friendly and don’t harm the skin in any way.
DIY Sun protection
However, if you’re a more of a DIY person, we have some fantastic homemade sun-protection and skin-caring ideas.
If you want glowing skin this summer, cut a large strawberry in half and simply rub each half in circles on your face. The juice in the strawberries are packed full of antioxidants and vitamin C, perfect for oily summer skin, and will also help to add a youthful glow to your complexion.
If you want to put a little more effort into this, you can also make a strawberry solution by blending 4-5 large strawberries, a cup of water, and some added honey if you want the extra benefits of purification and moisture. Simply rub this solution on your face in a circular motion every morning or evening, and your skin should be radiant in no time.
Another great homemade skin-care tip is to add coconut or sesame oil to your daily skincare routine. Coconut oil blocks out as much as 20 percent of the sun’s harmful rays and will leave your skin silky smooth. Apply coconut oil to any exposed patch of skin every hour for maximum sun protection. Similarly, sesame oil can block out approximately 30 percent of the sun’s rays, according to Julie Gabriel, author of The Green Beauty Guide.
Apply sesame oil to exposed skin once every one to two hours for maximum sun protection. Both oils can also be used as effective and moisturising lip balms as well. They’re both available in most supermarkets, especially coconut oil. We recommend Vita Coco Coconut Oil, which is currently only £1 from Holland and Barrett, and contains only raw, organic extra virgin coconut oil.
So, as you can see, summer skincare is all about balance and berries. Go out, enjoy the sun and reap its serotonin-boosting benefits. Just remember to take care of your skin along the way, and maybe buy a few more strawberries when you’re doing your next weekly food shop.