For a lot of us, the official start of summer is looming.
And as expected, our skin will be adjusting with the times. We’ve waxed poetic time and time again about the importance of year-round sun protection, but make no mistake: your summer skin care routine doesn’t start and end with SPF.
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From the foods you eat to the temperature of your shower water and the way you cleanse, there are a host of bad habits to rid yourself of before the hottest season arrives. Dove dermatologist, Dr. Mona Gohara, helped us get down to the nitty gritty of each one, so keep reading for the pro-tips you can actually trust.
Even in the middle of a sticky and hot day, nothing feels better than the steam from a hot shower. Unfortunately, that simple pleasure is also a killjoy for healthy skin.
According to Dr. Gohara, “Taking a hot shower compromises the skin barrier as. Keep it lukewarm to avoid overly irritating or drying the skin.” She also advises against soaps that tend to strip the skin of natural oil. Instead, consider using a non-soap cleanser such as the Dove Beauty Bar, target.com, or a lightweight, mild cleanser like the Dove Shower Foam Body Wash $6, target.com.
Speaking of showers, it’s also imperative that you don’t go overboard with exfoliation. We love a Clarisonic or loofah as much as the next person, but like soap, it can also lead to irritation and inflammation. Dr. Gohara adds, “over exfoliating can lead to discoloration, especially in brown skin. I recommend using a gentle exfoliant once a week.”
One of the most common skin care issues among women of color is uneven complexion or discoloration. These can result from pre-existing conditions such as acne or eczema. On the other hand, nasty habits, like picking at pimples, will also leave you with dark spots. Get into the habit of letting blemishes heal on their own time and be more cognizant of the anti-aging products you’re using. According to Dr. Gohara, retin-a treatments, which are vitamin a derivatives that help increase collagen production and decrease collagen breakdown, can be particularly irritating for Black skin.
Dr. Gohara says, “This makes acne go away and wrinkles, too. You can get them over the counter or by prescription. There is no one size fits all here – they come in creams, gels , lotions, serums and different strengths. Always consult with your dermatologist so you can identify which is best for you, if any. For oily skin, one may want a gel. For dry skin, a cream may be more effective. There are definitive nuances and if used the wrong way, irritation and discoloration can result.”
No one wants to hear that some of the yummiest food are also the unhealthiest, but it’s the cold, hard truth. As the season approaches, check in with your refrigerator to make sure that it’s fill with foods that are going to kick your summer glow into high gear.
Dr. Gohara says, “if it is not good for the heart, it is not good for the skin,” and also adds, “Diets high in glycemic index (breads, pastas, sweets, etc.) increase cortisol levels in the blood. In turn, this creates an environment whereby the skin is more likely to be inflamed.” Remember: eat everything in moderation!
Lastly, don’t forget your sunscreen! One of the most common misconceptions around brown skin is that we can’t get skin cancer because our melanin doubles as built-in SPF. We’ve said it many times and we’ll say it again: this is completely false!
Dr. Gohara emphasizes the importance of sun protection by highlighting the condition she tells patients to always look out for. “Melasma, a facial discoloration that is more common in women of color – especially if you are on OCPs (oral contraceptive pills), in tandem with sun exposure can be harmful,” she says. “Be sure to use shades, a hat and a broad-spectrum SPF always! I recommend one with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.”