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Sunscreen on face outside

Summer skin-care essentials.

Summer brings warm weather, sunshine, and days spent outdoors, but it doesn’t have to mean months of skin issues. A few tweaks to your skincare routine can keep your skin healthy and radiant throughout summer. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Proper sunscreen application
When it comes to sunscreen, the bare minimum is 30 SPF, but 50 is ideal for outdoor recreation. The average person should use about one ounce of sunscreen for a head-to-toe application, or a small squirt for facial application. Reapply every two hours, or every 40 minutes if working up a sweat or in the water. Remember, like paint, sunscreen takes time to dry—so apply it at least 15 minutes before going outside.

2. UV-protectant clothing
Sunscreen alone may not provide sufficient protection, especially during prolonged sun exposure. Clothes with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) ratings offer an extra layer of defense against the sun’s damaging effects. You can also purchase UV wash additives to add protection to your favorite outdoor apparel.

3. Gentle cleansing
Summer heat and humidity can lead to excess oil and sweat production, making proper cleansing essential. Cleanse your skin once daily with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and sunscreen residue without stripping away natural oils. Avoid harsh cleansers that can disrupt the skin’s barrier function and lead to dryness or irritation.

4. Acne prevention
For those prone to acne or folliculitis, summer can exacerbate skin issues, especially in areas prone to occlusion (lack of airflow), such as under helmets. Keeping equipment clean and removing sweaty clothing as soon as possible can help decrease skin breakouts. If breakouts occur, consider incorporating an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide (BPO) or sodium hypochlorite wash into your daily routine. Let these washes sit on the affected area for one to two minutes prior to rinsing off. Be aware that BPO can bleach fabrics and cause skin dryness & irritation, but is cheaper than sodium hypochlorite products.

5. Polypodium leucotomos & antioxidants
Oral Polypodium leucotomos supplements and topical vitamin C help neutralize free radicals and inflammation generated by UV exposure, reducing the risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. Think of these as “sunscreen boosters” rather than replacements.

If you run into any problems, don’t worry about making a rash decision and call your dermatologist’s office for an appointment. They can help you get your skin in order and get you back to doing what you love.

Dr. Tara Oetken is a dermatologist at SkinCare MT.