As summer approaches and temperatures rise, our bodies must make important adaptations to retain a healthy equilibrium. Many of these changes occur in the skin, the most evident being increased sweating and the dilation of blood vessels near the skin surface, which help to release excess heat from our bodies (1). At the same time, more subtle changes are occurring in the skin. Sebum production increases, increasing our risk of developing acne (2). Our skin also loses less water, and skin becomes more hydrated, firmer and more elastic, giving us a natural healthy glow (2).
Meanwhile, The melanin content of pigmented skin increases, and also makes areas of hyperpigmentation more noticeable (3) . Increased exposure of skin to UV light enhances our levels of vitamin D, which has important benefits for our overall health (read more here). On the other hand, overexposure to UV light will trigger the production of free radicals that can speed skin ageing and increase the risk of developing cancers.
We need to adjust our skin care routine during summer to keep it healthy, and in the same way, making a few simple changes to our diet and lifestyle will help our bodies stay cool and less stressed, even on the hottest days. We have combined some principles from Ayurveda with the latest science for tips to help you enjoy summer to the max, while keeping body and skin at its healthiest.
Most of us understand that eating spicy food or drinking coffee on a hot summer’s day will bring a warm flush to our cheeks and sweat to our brows. For people with sensitive skin or rosacea, this could be enough to trigger an inflammatory event that leads to unsettled, painful, irritated skin. In Ayurveda, summer is a time to choose food and drink that cools the body. This flows onto mind and spirit, helping us remain calm and function better on all levels.
Here are some examples of food and drink considered to be cooling (from ‘Absolute Beauty’ Pratima Raichur with Marcin Cohn):
- sweet fruits like mango, watermelon, rock melon, grapes, berries, stone fruits, pomegranates, pears, sweet oranges, dates and raisins.
- vegetables including leafy green salads, avocado, asparagus, celery, zucchini, artichoke, green beans, kale, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, capsicum and cabbage.
- herbs and spices like basil, mint, cilantro, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, parsley, turmeric and vanilla.
- grains including barley, amaranth, oats and wheat, but avoiding bread with yeast.
- pulses including chickpeas, black beans, lentils, soy and tofu.
- drinking plenty of water and maintaining hydration, additional cooling drinks include coconut water, smoothies, black tea and herbal teas with cooling properties like mint, fennel and cardamom.
On a separate note, it’s important to remember that the right kind of diet can go some way to protecting our skin from UV damage. UV light triggers generation of free radicals which set off inflammation and damage DNA and other cell components in the skin. A diet rich in antioxidants, particularly the carotenoids and polyphenols, will prevent some of the damage caused by exposure to UV light, and can act as supplementary protection against sun exposure (read more here).
Good quality sleep is vital for good health (read more here), and can be more difficult during summer. Using cotton or linen sheets, allowing fresh air into the room or using a gentle fan on the hottest nights can help.
Meditation & Exercise
Staying cool is easier with a calm mind. Meditation and meditative practices like yoga, tai chi, walking, swimming, running, cycling, or whatever takes you to a place of peace and calm is a habit to cultivate no matter what the season. In summer, strenuous activities should be carried out in the early morning or evening to prevent excessive stress on the body.
Ensure you top up vitamin D by getting sun on your skin at a time of day and for length of time deemed safe - more information here.
Clothing should be loose-fitting so that moisture is not trapped against the skin. It should be made from natural fibres to promote evaporation and air flow.
The good news is that during summer, our skin is naturally more hydrated, firmer and elastic than during the colder months. It also produces more sebum at this time of year, so that those suffering from dry, flakey, irritable skin should experience some relief. For most skin types, the arrival of summer means the barrier function of our skin is in a better state than in winter.
The bad news is that for those prone to acne, higher sebum production can increase the risk of breakouts. And for those with combination and normal skin, the increased production of sebum could trigger episodes of acne that were rare or absent during winter.
Changes to the routine during summer:
Cleansing becomes more important, particularly for oily, combination and normal skin types where a build-up of sebum and cell debris, combined with increased sweat secretions can increase the risk of breakouts.
Consider going lighter on makeup to prevent pore blockages and entrapment of salts from sweat. It’s also important to be extra careful to remove makeup completely each night.
Makeup Remover & Cleansing Oil will effectively remove makeup, deep cleanse the pores and help remove blackheads, excess sebum and pollutants.
Avoid detergent-based cleansers which can remove the lipid component of your skin’s barrier, increasing the risk of both acne and dry, irritated skin (read more here).
Our Pure Hydrosol Toner is extremely gentle, and will restore the skin’s acidic pH, an important part of the skin’s barrier. It is best applied after cleansing and before application of your moisturiser. During the warm summer months, it can be misted onto the skin regularly throughout the day to refresh and invigorate.
During summer, the improved skin barrier function means a lighter moisturiser can be used, particularly during the day. For example, if your skin is dry during winter and you normally use one of our creams as a moisturiser, you may find you need only our Raspberry & Pomegranate Serum as your moisturiser during the heat of summer.
From ‘lightest’ to ‘heaviest’ our moisturisers are:
Elderberry & Chia Seed Serum - lightest
Rich Face Cream - heaviest
Summer is traditionally a time for holidays and celebrations, spending time outdoors and enjoying nature. Increased exposure to the sun and over-indulgence in food and drink can take a toll on our skin, accelerating ageing and increasing the risk of long-term damage. We know this damage can be prevented to some extent by protecting our skin properly, eating an antioxidant-rich diet, and applying skin care that contains abundant antioxidants, both before and after sun exposure (read more here). We hope you take the time to make a few simple adjustments to your diet, lifestyle and skin care routine so that you can live your healthiest and happiest life this summer.
1. Barry, H. et al ( 2020 )Improved neural control of body temperature following heat acclimation in humans. The Journal of Physiology 598: 1223-123
2. Uchegbulam, I. et al (2022) Effect of seasonal change on the biomechanical and physical changes of human skin. Journal of the Mechanical Nature of Biomedical Materials.127
3. Qiu, H. et al (2011) Influence of season on some skin properties. International Journal of Cosmetic Science 33: 377-383.