Discover how to take care of your skin and hair naturally this summer…
We all look forward to the summer, when the days are longer, temperature hotter and the skies are sunnier. Whilst you’re enjoying all the sunshine, it’s worth considering the health of your skin and hair. The sun’s powerful rays can do some serious damage.
“While getting out in the sun is important for a variety of reasons, prolonged sun exposure can contribute to skin and hair irritation and dehydration,” comments Salma Dawood, technical advisor at Viridian Nutrition. “Chronic UV exposure increases oxidative damage to the skin, that can alter skin-cell function. This oxidative stress can speed up skin-ageing, reduce skin elasticity, contribute to hyperpigmentation and more. UV radiation can also degrade hair proteins and pigments, affecting hair growth and integrity. Therefore, it is particularly important to protect the hair and skin with UV filters during this time of year.”
“Both hair and skin can be ravaged by the heat and humidity common in the summer months,” confirms nutritionist Rose Holmes, education and training manager at Rio Health. “In humid conditions, skin pores may open and enlarge allowing them to collect more dust, dirt and allergens. Hot and humid conditions may also increase production of sweat which may result in excess production of oil and clogged pores. Acne, eczema and allergic skin reactions may occur. As well as these factors, our skin faces other challenges in the summer as it is a physical barrier offering protection from dehydration, UV radiation, pollution and much more.”
It’s not just the sun and heat either, saltwater and chlorinated swimming pools can wreak havoc too. “Hot temperatures mean potentially greater use of swimming pools and more visits to the seaside. Whilst saltwater at the seaside may have beneficial effect on skin, heavily chlorinated water in swimming pools may strip the skin’s natural oils and kill beneficial as well as harmful skin bacteria. Since high heat and humidity encourage bacterial and fungal infections, the loss of beneficial skin bacteria due to chlorinated swimming pool water may have impact. Dry, irritated skin may result, and, for some, also acne,” said Holmes.
“One of the biggest threats to our skin in the summer is UV light,” explains Ian Taylor, Green People’s cosmetic scientist. “UVB rays can burn the skin and cause discomfort, but UVA can reach deep into the layers to skin and can cause damage such as premature ageing and wrinkle. Much like our skin, our hair can be vulnerable to damage from UV rays. UV light causes cuticles to lift away from the hair shafts and this can mean that hair loses moisture and appears dry and dull.”
So, what can we do to protect our skin and hair? Taylor recommends wearing a hat when out in the sunshine and always using sun lotion: “Wearing a hat will help shield your hair from the sun and, as excess heat can further weaken the hair, it’s wise to put your staying tongs and straighteners aside for the summer months. When it comes to protecting your skin from the sun, the most important thing is to apply a UVA and UVB protecting sun lotion. Prickly heat is a common summer skin condition and, if you are prone to it, it is best to apply a scent-free sun lotion made with non-toxic filters.”
Those prone to rosacea might also find that their skin more affected by the condition in warmer weather, as such the NHS urges all rosacea sufferers to consider wearing a broad-spectrum sun lotion daily, even on cloudy days.
To protect the skin, Holmes suggests using an oil rich in antioxidants and a moisturising body butter: “On the face, using an antioxidant rich oil may help counter effects of pollution and sun exposure. For all over use, body butters are great—choose one with shea butter, rosehip seed oil and nourishing babassu (Orbignya oleifera) which gently moisturises both dry and oily skin.”
Moisturising the skin is important to counter the drying effects of sun, sea and air conditioning. Remember to moisturise after sun exposure and to use serums and creams with moisturising and hydrating effects. Whilst intensive moisturising may be needed, look for a product that is light and easily absorbed. Using a sun cream is vital, but you can add extra protection by using a day cream containing natural sun protection too, such as red alga (Porphyra umbilicalis) which offers natural screening from UV light and protects from premature ageing of the skin.
When looking for skincare products, Holmes advises looking for ones containing ingredients such as sacha inchi oil, grapefruit oil and shea butter: “Sacha inchi (Plukenetia volubilis), an omega-3 rich oil, rich also in antioxidant vitamins C and E and carotenoids may help fight against oxidative damage. Sacha inchi may help counter the effects of pollution and stressors (such as weather conditions) on the skin.
“Shea butter is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin rich so may help repair sun burnt skin whilst also moisturising it. Look for moisturisers and body butters rich in this luscious, healing and protective ingredient. Grapefruit oil is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants which help to neutralise free radicals that damage the skin and speed up signs of ageing. When applied to skin, grapefruit oil provides a refreshing feeling.”
It’s vital to stay hydrated, for your overall health as well as for your hair and skin. “Keep the body and skin well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It is essential to remember that in hot summer sun our whole bodies may become dehydrated and this has huge impact on the skin,” comments Holmes.
Taylor agrees: “Staying well hydrated is a great way to help skin and hair from becoming dry. A great summer drink for your hair is coconut water. Not only is it a refreshing summer drink, it’s rich in potassium which can help strengthen the hair. For clear skin, swap sugary cocktails and fizzy drinks for water. Those prone to rosacea might be best to avoid alcohol drinks and spicy summer foods as, these are known to trigger flare ups of the condition.”
“Hydration and heat protection are key in maintaining your hair and skin this summer,” advises Salma Dawood, technical advisor at Viridian Nutrition. “As the temperatures soar, skin and hair lose a larger amount of moisture compared to winter months. Replenish lost moisture with natural and organic moisturisers and conditioners.”
In terms of nutrition, you should opt for a healthy balanced diet with good sources of protein and plenty of vegetables in all colours.
“Protein is needed for skin repair and renewal and a ‘rainbow’ of vegetables can provide the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed for healthy skin,” explains Holmes. “Skincare should start with internal health. Three dietary ways to provide excellent foundation for healthy skin are to avoid sugar/sugar-rich foods and to ensure inclusion of antioxidant-rich vegetables/fruit and essential fatty acids in omega-rich fish.”
There are specific nutrients which can focus on too, including silicon and zinc. Holmes explains: “Skin, hair (hair follicles) and nails contain connective tissue which can be supported by ensuring optimal amounts of protein (for collagen), vitamins and minerals. Silicon is an especially important, and often overlooked, nutrient that supports connective tissue and is important for the maintenance of healthy hair, skin and nails. Zinc and other minerals also contribute synergistically with silicon in this respect. Bioavailability from food sources of silicon (green beans, oats and brown rice) is thought to be limited; but when delivered as liquid orthosilicic acid (the form in which it exists in the human body), it is readily absorbed.”
Green People’s SPF30 sun lotion is designed to care for sensitive skin and contains a non-toxic filter made of titanium dioxide in place of salicylates or benzophenones. This reflects UV radiation to help shield the skin from sun damage.
Rio Rosa Mosqueta’s Antioxidant Facial Oil provides natural antioxidant protection and miniaturisation for the oxidation and dehydrating effects of the sun. It’s a light oil, quickly absorbed into the skin and contains a blend of three antioxidant-rich oils from rosehips, cranberry seed and sacha inchi.
Green People’s Quinoa & Artichoke hair care range contains an artichoke leave extract that repairs damage and can help reseal the surface of the hair to reduce porosity. It’s great for hair that may be damaged by chlorine or sun exposure.
Rio Rosa Mosqueta’s Body Butter and Hand Cream both contain shea butter and grapefruit oil so help repair, soothe and replenish the skin whilst providing antioxidant protection.
Rio Rosa Mosqueta’s Day & Night Cream containsrosehip seed oil as well as Porphyra umbilicalis and can be used day or night.