There’s so much about summer that makes skincare a nightmare. You’ve to contend with the hot sun, the dust and the sweat. While the heat shrivels up the skin and the sun tans it, the sweat — water combined with excretory products such as urea and salicylic acid — coats the body with smelly salts. Natural oils on the face and scalp, mixed with the sweat, cause sensitivity and redness. Basic steps of skincare remain the same — cleaning, protection and nutrition — but you have to take added precautions to battle the sun.
Cleaning: Wash your face frequently, using a gentle face wash. Avoid harsh soaps as they cause dryness as well as rebound oiliness. Soothe the skin with ice cubes, applying ice directly on clean skin and then dabbing it dry. Do no scrub.
Oily hair can make your skin spotty and prone to acne, so wash it regularly, especially after exercising, stepping outdoors or doing any work that makes you sweat. Excess shampooing does not harm the hair, but go for a normal shampoo.
Protection: Cover up using caps, scarves and full-sleeved shirts. Do not step out in the sun between
11 am to 2 pm, when UV exposure is maximum. If exposure is unavoidable, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15-30, which is best suited for Indian skin types. Lower SPF is ineffective, higher causes skin damage. Choose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB and apply it 10 minutes before stepping out. Re-apply every two hours. Physical barriers such as calamine lotion and pure zinc oxide lotions also work.
Prevention: Have lots of water. Avoid seafood, spicy food and caffeine as it increases blood flow to the face. At the fist signs of rash or itching, pop an anti-allergic such as cetrizine before going to bed. Oral antioxidants such as one capsule of Antoxyl forte daily, for three weeks, four times a year, benefits the skin.
(Dr Shehla Agarwal is a dermatologist and director of Mehak Skin Clinic , Sarvodaya Enclave)