This Is What The Heatwave Is Doing To Your Skin

Spoiler alert: it is BAD news.

While it’s a welcome change to have so much sunshine in our lives, it would seem the heatwave may be causing more harm than good when it comes to our skin.

Sweating is causing spots left, right and centre; while UV exposure and air pollution are creating the ultimate skin cell damaging tag team. To make matters worse (sorry), dehydration can leave your skin and lips feeling rough.

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So why is a heatwave so problematic for skin? There are a number of factors.

Firstly, air conditioning in your office, car or local shops. While it’s probably helping to keep your pits cool, it’s not doing your face any favours. “Air conditioning reduces humidity, which has a very drying effect, as it reduces the natural moisture content of the skin and mucous membranes (eyes, lips and lining of the nose),” says Dr Emma Wedgeworth, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson.

Add sweating into the mix and you’ve got a real recipe for disaster. Dr Justine Hextall, consultant dermatologist on behalf of The Harley Medical Group, says sweat aggravates outbreaks of spots. Furthermore, the combination of sun creams, makeup and sweat can lead to pimples on the face and body.

And then there’s pollution to factor in. Dr Wedgeworth explains that increased sweating makes small particulate matter from pollution more likely to stick to the skin, causing free radical damage. She adds: “Probably more important is the combination of increased UV exposure and pollution, which occurs during the summer months. We know that UV and pollution act synergistically on the skin, causing damage at a cellular level.”

People might also experience eczema and psoriasis flare-ups as hotter temperatures cause increased blood flow to the skin, which can in turn exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions.

So what might help to ease the problem?

It’s important to adapt your skin care routine to the weather, says Dr Wedgeworth. “Thick greasy ointments and oils are more likely to block your sweat glands in the summer, so pick lighter water-based lotions,” she explains.

It might also be worth opting for a gentler face wash. “And don’t forget your sun protection, combined with plenty of antioxidants - both in your skincare and in your diet.”

Dr Hextall also recommends using topical creams and serums containing antioxidants like vitamin C to help repair skin damage, as she says they help to “mop up the free radical damage we see with sun exposure, poor diet, stress and pollution”.

She also advises eating plenty of leafy greens this summer such as broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage cauliflower and watercress, which are “top cleansing foods”.

“Healthy fats (Lipids) build stronger skin cell membranes and barrier to lock in skin moisture and smooth out skin appearance,” Dr Hextall explains. “So don’t skimp on healthy fats. Avocados are loaded with Vitamin E, which protects our skin from damage and is also a great source of essential fats to nourish and soothe the skin. Other good sources of healthy fats include nuts and seeds, oily fish and coconut oil.”

Some other tips that might help your skin this summer include: keeping as cool as possible by seeking shade and avoiding the hottest parts of the day; taking tepid or cool showers; and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Phew.


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