By Prudence Wade
Summer means warm weather (sometimes), long sessions in pub gardens and holidays either at home or abroad.
But if we’re not properly prepared, spending more time in the sun than we’re used to can wreak havoc with both our skin and our hair. Here are some of the most common summer beauty problems to watch out for, with useful tips on how you can both prevent and treat them…
Hyperpigmentation – when an excess of melanin, our skin’s natural pigment, comes to the surface of damaged skin – can look more pronounced during the summer months. Dr Howard Murad, dermatologist and founder of Murad Skincare, says hyperpigmentation can be triggered by “sun, hormonal changes and skin trauma”, which all cause our bodies to produce more melanin.
He advises: “Once hyperpigmentation reveals itself, reach for topical products that are high in vitamin C, which has been shown to be effective at reducing hyperpigmentation and providing powerful antioxidant protection.”
Other ingredients you might want to incorporate into your routine include tranexamic acid, which Howard says “helps soothe, brighten, revive dull skin and even tone”. Glycolic acid, meanwhile, “exfoliates to help remove dullness, improve skin’s texture and clear away dull skin cells”.
Of course, the best way to prevent hyperpigmentation – and stop existing patches from getting worse – is by using SPF every day.
Dry hair and scalp
The summer months can lead to an array of hair-related issues. Tangle Teezer ambassador, Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, pinpoints sun damage as a key problem and urges her clients to use “the right heat protection products”.
Takisha says it’s important to use products that contain UV protection. “It protects your hair – especially when it’s naturally curly – and it protects your scalp,” she says. “It leaves it healthy in the long run.”
It’s not just your hair that can get dry and crispy in the sunshine – your scalp might suffer, too. Nothing is worse than a tight scalp, so Takisha recommends regular head massages. “It gets that blood flowing and the scalp feels great,” she says.
For extra protection from the sun, Takisha suggests using a serum for general, all round hair care. She adds: “Otherwise it’s just going to get dried out, it’s going to start to break, it’s going to look fragile. It’s just not going to look healthy or happy.”
It’s happened to almost all of us at some point – forgetting to reapply our sunscreen or missing patches, and ending up with dreaded sunburn.
Howard urges caution whenever you’re sunbathing. “Even tanning in moderation produces the same harmful effects as would a burn,” he says. “Tanning causes premature ageing and can lead to wrinkles.”
If you are outside, Howard says it’s important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. “I recommend looking for sun protection products that include hydrators, anti-inflammatory ingredients and antioxidants,” he says. “These products will also help repair the skin’s barrier to make it better able to defend itself from the sun and other environmental aggressors, like pollution.”
Not only is it vital to wear a good sunscreen, but it’s also worth re-evaluating what other products you’re using. “Avoid heavy creams, butters, and petroleum jelly products, which can trap the heat the skin is trying to release and actually force the burn deeper into your skin, where it can do more damage,” says Howard.
Fading is something Takisha sees frequently in the summer. She says that while the degree to which your hair fades depends on the colour you have in the first place, summer dullness is often an issue for hair that’s “a light blonde or a brunette”.
To prevent this, she recommends products that protect your locks’ tones – and one of her favourites is purple shampoo. “It just keeps the colour alive and vibrant all the time, and it doesn’t fade,” she explains.
Sunburn and pigmentation are some of the more obvious summer skin issues we might encounter, but have you ever thought about acne?
“Breakouts are more common during the hot summer months as a result of increased perspiration, which leads to more oil production and dirt on the skin,” explains Howard.
“Washing your face, eating a healthy diet and wearing a sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection specifically formulated to help your specific skin concern will be key to preventing summer breakouts.”
Think about what you’re putting into your body, as well as what you put onto it. “It is imperative that you keep yourself hydrated,” he says. Grab that water bottle, now!