Care for Your Skin in the Summer Sun

Care for Your Skin in the Summer Sun

Growing up, many of us skipped sunscreen. Decades ago, we weren't as savvy about the sun's dangers. It was normal for my dad to turn a darker shade of brown after playing soccer games in the intense summer heat. I followed suit. I also tanned nicely after being out in the sun for 30 minutes.

My mother and her sisters, on the other hand, have extremely light complexions. They turn as red as lobsters with just a few kisses of sunlight. It wasn’t until I was a bit older and outside in my aunt and uncle’s pool all summer that my mom would tell them to make me put sun screen on.

The amount of melanin, a pigment chemical in peoples’ skin, determines if they have light or darker complexions. It also plays a direct role in the risk for skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation   reports Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the United States. While it accounts for less than two percent of all skin cancer, it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leaving site icon tells us, the risk for melanoma is different for different ethnicities. Caucasians have the greatest risk. Their risk is three to five times higher than Native Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders,  and 15 to 25 times higher than Latinos and African Americans.

While a darker complexion allows some protection, the important bottom-line is that people of color can still develop melanoma.

As the largest organ on our bodies, it’s hard to ignore the look and feel of your skin over time. Regardless of your skin color or amount of melanin, you can take steps to protect your skin and keep it healthy. Here are a few.

Protect Yourself From the Sun

Show your skin a little TLC to help to prevent wrinkles and age spots and other skin problems. It will also lower your risk for skin cancer.

  • Slather on sunscreen. Apply one with a 15 SPF or higher every two hours and right after swimming.
  • Stay in the shade. Avoid the sun when its rays are their strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Cover your skin. Wear light, breathable, protective clothing to put an extra layer of protection between you and the sun’s rays.
Don’t Smoke

Smoking makes your skin look older. It narrows the tiny blood vessels in the skin. With less blood flow, your skin doesn’t get the nourishment it needs. It also depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients important for healthy skin and its ability to heal.

Rethink Your Skin Care Routine

Be gentle with your skin. Although your skin care process is good, it might take a toll on your skin. Here are a few things that you can do. Bathe with warm water. Chose a natural soap. Pat yourself dry. And don’t forget to moisturize.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Rich in vitamins, natural antioxidants and essential fatty-acids, they help keep skin healthy.

Manage Stress

Your skin in sensitive. Uncontrolled stress can trigger breakouts and other skin problems. Give your skin and mood a healthy boost by exercising, getting enough sleep, watching a funny movie or listening to your favorite music. They all help keep stress under wraps.

Do you have any tried-and-true routines to keep your skin healthy and glowing?

Sources: Melanoma Overview,   The Skin Cancer Foundation, 2024; Melanoma of the Skin Statistics,   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023;  Skin Care: 5 Tips for Healthy Skin,   Mayo Clinic, 2022; Sun Safety,   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023

Originally published 5/18/2018; Revised 2019, 2022, 2024