Natural Summer Skincare

Long exposure to the sun’s harsh UV rays during summer is the main cause of premature aging of the skin. Covering up with sensible clothing and a wide brimmed hat goes a long way towards preventing over-exposure, but avoiding summer sunlight altogether is neither practical nor advisable. Outdoor activities are an enjoyable and healthy aspect of summer that need not be given up as long as the skin is adequately protected. The following natural skin care tips will help to lessen the skin’s vulnerability to the elements during summer while gently pampering it to ensure a vibrant, healthy glow.

Drink plenty of water

This very basic tip is by far the most important, and as such cannot be stressed too strongly. Fluid levels in the body are quickly depleted in hot weather due to perspiration and evaporation, and the skin is the first area to show signs of dehydration. Replenishing fluid supplies by drinking water regularly throughout the day helps to keep the skin moisturized from the inside, flush out dirt and other impurities and regulate oil production. Skin that is well hydrated is also better equipped to quickly repair and/or replace sun damaged cells.

Use a natural zinc oxide based sunscreen

It is recommended that skin receives around fifteen minutes of unprotected early morning or late afternoon sunlight exposure per day to avoid vitamin D deficiency, but for longer periods, sunscreen is an absolute necessity. Zinc oxide is not absorbed by the skin and does not react with the body’s chemistry like synthetic sunscreens do. Instead it forms a fine, reflective film over the skin to protect it. Zinc is a safe, natural alternative which also happens to be one of the best broad spectrum sunscreens available, blocking both UVA and UVB rays effectively.

Cleanse and exfoliate with milk and oatmeal

Both milk and oatmeal are well known for their gentle cleansing action and beneficial nutrients suitable for all skin types. Unlike soaps and other cleansers containing harsh petrochemicals, milk and oatmeal deeply cleanse without stripping the skin of its natural oils and protective acid mantle. When these are removed by daily cleansing the skin gradually loses its ability to retain moisture, particularly in hot or windy conditions. Oatmeal also loosens and gently removes dead skin cells, revealing a healthy, smooth surface.

An effective exfoliating cleanser can be made at home by mixing equal parts of finely ground oatmeal and powdered milk (goat’s milk is best) with enough water to make a  paste that glides over the skin easily without being too sloppy. This cleanser is gentle enough for daily use and can be applied with a circular motion all over the body as well as the face, hands and feet. Replace the water with honey (dry skin) or natural yoghurt (oily skin) and you have the perfect weekly summer face mask.

Moisturize and heal with pure Aloe Vera gel

Aloe Vera is a natural emollient and humectant which means it not only moisturizes the skin but also helps to hold moisture in. Oil based moisturizers are often too heavy for summer use, giving the skin a greasy undesirable sheen which can upset natural oil production. Aloe Vera is absorbed quickly to nourish right down to the deepest layers of skin, leaving the surface soft but not overly shiny.

When it comes to burns, nothing soothes and aids the healing process like Aloe Vera, and this includes sunburn. Applied directly from the refrigerator the gel also provides a cooling effect as it works its way down into the skin to help repair sun damage.

Spray herbal hydrating mists regularly

Even well cared for skin can become dry on the surface during the heat of a summer’s day, prompting over-production of natural oils to compensate for lack of moisture. Herbal hydrating mists, when sprayed regularly, help to prevent the skin’s surface from drying while also providing a cool, refreshing lift. Rose and lavender water are readily available from health stores and make wonderful summer hydrating mists.

A simple herbal mist can be made at home by steeping any natural herbal tea bag in a cup of boiled distilled water for ten minutes. Allow the tea to cool and place in a spray bottle in the refrigerator. Apply a quick mist to the face, neck and shoulders whenever you feel dry, hot or just tired and in need of a lift.

Follow a healthy diet

All the pampering in the world won’t negate the effects of a diet rich in fats, sodium and sugar. Our skin is our largest organ and as such it is going to react to whatever we eat, both good and bad. A healthy diet is the skin’s best friend, so while summer fruits and vegetables are available fresh and in season, make the most of them and your skin will thank you by looking fresh and healthy too.