The sun’s rays can be harmful in many more ways than one. "It’s essential to avoid undue exposure to the sun in this season, especially between 11 am and 4 pm when it can cause the maximum damage," says Dr Atul Bhasin, consultant, internal medicine, B L Kapur Hospital, Delhi.
So while a good sunscreen is always recommended, you should also cover up with an umbrella, hat or dupatta. Full sleeved clothes help. Sip fluids constantly to keep your skin hydrated and protect against sun damage.
If your skin becomes dark, leathery and patchy, you have sunburn. “Severe sunburn can also lead to pigmentation,” says Dr D M Mahajan, senior consultant dermatologist at Apollo Hospital. “Treat a sunburn immediately. Drink lots of fluids to keep your body hydrated – sunburn on dry skin can be terrible.” A moisturising sunscreen is essential.
Try Suparna Trikha’s home remedy for sunburn: Mix three tablespoons of aloe vera gel, two tablespoons of honey and half a tablespoon of olive oil. Apply all over the face. This will hydrate, moisturise and rejuvenate the skin. You can also rub slices of fresh cucumber over the sunburned area.
If you have combination skin or oily skin, you are likely to have blackheads. “Greasy skin is inclined to be shiny, with open pores and blackheads. Blackheads are a result of over-active sebaceous glands,” explains Dr Blossom Kochhar.
To eliminate blackheads, try this scrub treatment twice a week. Moisten your face and hands with warm water. Then put a teaspoon of cleansing granules in the palm, work them into a rich lather and apply to the face. Massage gently for a few seconds. Concentrate on clogged pores and blackhead areas. Rinse off thoroughly with warm water.
Tackle the tan
Exfoliation removes dead cells and therefore the tan. “Oatmeal soaked in milk is a good exfoliator; so are gram flour and turmeric mixed with curd. Or you could simply use a loofah,” says beauty expert Bharti Taneja. “You could also mix equal amounts of cucumber and lemon juice, rub it over the affected area and wash it off after a few minutes. Or mix grated cucumber with honey and dab it on the tanned areas.”
Here’s a remedy from natural beauty expert Suparna Trikha: Take two teaspoons of pure sandalwood powder, one teaspoon of cold milk and a few drops of lemon juice. (If you have very dry skin, replace the lemon juice with half a teaspoon of almond oil.) Mix these ingredients well and apply all over the tanned areas of your skin.
If you have oily skin, avoid spicy food, tea, coffee, cigarettes and fatty foods. “Constipation aggravates it, so ensure your diet has natural roughage like raw fruits, vegetables, pulses, legumes and whole grams,” says Rama Desai, spa director at Radisson. “Also, drink lots of water and carry out a scrupulous cleansing routine.”
A scorching summer can also affect the eyes – as can the dust that is so plentiful this season. So, on a regular basis, you absolutely must splash your eyes with cold water, says Dr Kamal Kapoor, medical director, Sharp Sight Centre, Delhi.“You must also make sure your hands are always clean and, when you’re out in the sun, wear a good pair of sunglasses,” he adds.
This infection of the eye is often picked up in public places like swimming pools or at offices. Symptoms are redness of the eyes, irritation, discharge and watering. “To avoid eye infections, wear sunglasses for outdoor activities, avoid touching or rubbing your eyes, wash your eyes frequently with cold water, wear swimming goggles and make sure the pool you are using is being maintained well,” says Dr Kamal Kapoor. “Do not share personal belongings like hankies and towels with others. Get immediate treatment from an eye specialist to prevent the spread of the infection.”
Harmful ultraviolet rays also cause damage to the lens (cataract) and retina (macular degeneration). So wear UV protective sunglasses. The label should read: ‘blocks 99% to 100% of UVA or UV400’. Wrap-around sunglasses prevent lateral exposure. Polarised lenses are recommended for activities like skiing, surfing and diving. Polycarbonate lenses are impact resistant and shatterproof.
“Dry eyes tend to become worse in summer due to increased temperature and rapid tear film evaporation,” says Dr Kamal Kapoor. “Air-conditioning can make dry eyes worse.” So wash your eyes frequently, use preservative-free lubricating eye drops for relief and keep your face as far away from the blast of air-conditioning as possible.
Allergies also increase in summer due to pollen release into the air, increased temperatures and traffic pollution, says Dr Parul M Sharma, senior eye surgeon, Max Healthcare. Your eyes itch and turn red, and you feel a burning sensation. So wash your eyes frequently, wear protective eye glasses and use eye drops. “Avoid over the counter medicines as they may contain harmful steroids,” says Dr Sharma.
Contact lens users must be extra vigilant as chances of infection are high. Clean your lenses every day, do not wear them for longer than the recommended time, and discard them on schedule. Do not wear them when you swim.
However healthy your eyes are, add green vegetables, carrots, nuts and red and yellow fruits to your diet. These are natural sources of vitamin A and caretenoids, says Dr Parul M Sharma, senior eye surgeon, Max Healthcare, Delhi.
The sun and humidity are the worst enemies of your hair’s cuticles, causing damage that results in split ends, dry hair, frizzy hair or brittle hair. That’s because sunlight has the same damaging effect on your hair as a hot blow dryer.
“Dry hair is the symptom of either environmental exposure or lack of sebum (hair oil) production. Sebum is secreted from sebaceous glands associated with follicle pores,” explains Dr Blossom Kochhar. To take good care of your hair, says Sapna Bhavnani, hair expert and brand ambassador for Fiama Di Wills, start by getting a good haircut. “Yes, that is the first step,” she says.
Here’s how to handle it, says Sapna Bhavnani. Shampoo with cold water and finish with a leave-in conditioner on towel-dried hair. “Apply it only on the middle and ends of your hair. And do not brush out your curls.”
Wash it clean
Use a good shampoo and conditioner, emphasises Bhavnani. “If you sweat a lot or have a greasy scalp, try an everyday mild shampoo. If you have fine, limp, straight hair, work with a blast dry on towel-dried hair and do not use products.”