Summer poses a unique set of challenges for your skin. The increased sunshine, heat, and humidity can lead to sunburn, excess oiliness, breakouts, and more. But with a few tweaks to your daily routine, you can have happy skin all season long. Here are eight natural ways to keep your skin healthy this summer, according to beauty experts.
1. Use Mineral Sunscreen
Sunscreen is a daily must, no matter the weather, since the damage from UV rays is the same on both sunny and cloudy days, says Shawnda Dorantes, M.S.N., A.P.R.N., F.N.P.-C, founder of Beauty Lounge Medical Spa in San Marcos, California.
The most natural sunscreen option? Mineral sunscreen that contains non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient, says Dorantes. The sun protectant zinc oxide creates a barrier on your skin to block UV rays from penetrating through.
Also good to know: Because zinc oxide sits on top of your skin and isn’t absorbed into your skin, it won’t cause a contact allergy like some chemical sunscreens can, adds Melanie Palm, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Art of Skin MD in San Diego.
Pro tip: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends slathering on one ounce (the amount in a shot glass) of sunscreen from head to toe and reapplying it at least every two hours for adequate protection.
2. Stay In The Shade
One of the easiest and most natural ways to protect your skin this summer? Seek shade during the sun’s peak hours, which are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to Palm.
Read More: 8 Things Your Skin Can Tell You About Your Health
Steering clear of the sun when it’s at its most powerful can help prevent sunburn and UV damage that can lead to dark spots. Whether this means hanging out beneath that beach umbrella or donning a hat and protective clothing, do your best to minimize your exposure.
3. Try Oil Cleansing
During the summer months, you may find that washing your face with your regular cleanser and water just doesn’t cut through all of the grease.
Enter oil cleansing, which involves using oil (rather than soap) to effectively get rid of dirt, makeup, and other buildup on the skin without stripping away essential moisture.
“Oil cleansing with natural sunflower oil, which is non-comedogenic [not pore-clogging] and great for oily skin, helps break down oil and dirt that regular facial cleanser alone may miss,” says Dorantes. To oil cleanse, gently massage one to two teaspoons of your oil onto dry skin with your fingertips. Do this for a few seconds to get rid of makeup and dirt. Then, rinse your face with warm water or a damp washcloth and finish up with your usual moisturizer.
4. Be Gentle With Your Skin-Care Routine
All that summer sweat can lead to an increase in zits and irritation. The best thing you can do is follow a gentle skin-care routine and use lightweight products that won’t clog pores or cause further irritation.
“To keep acne-prone skin clear, stick to a non-irritating, twice-a-day skin-care routine,” Dorantes suggests. (Think cleansing, moisturizing, and applying SPF.). “Apply water-based (versus oil-based) makeup and skin-care products, and exfoliate regularly,” suggests Dorantes.
Important: When it comes to the exfoliation part of your regimen, consider salicylic acid, suggests Palm. This beta-hydroxy acid can help with breakouts and is generally thought to be gentle and well-tolerated by most skin types.
Another good ingredient to think about using this summer? The anti-inflammatory niacinamide, says Palm. Studies show niacinamide can help keep skin clear and even reduce the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles.
Just one note before incorporating new ingredients into your routine: Check with your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because certain ingredients are not meant to be used in these circumstances, Palm points out.
5. Up Your Water Intake
Though many experts recommend you guzzle 64 ounces (the equivalent of eight cups) of water per day, “warmer temps and increased activity may increase those needs,” says Palm.
That’s because you tend to sweat more in the heat and therefore lose more water—and that can have an effect on your skin’s appearance (among other things!). “Hydration of the body allows the skin to have proper water for various processes,” says Palm. “Poorly-hydrated skin will be loose, dry, and lackluster.”
Read More: 4 Ways To Eat Your Water And Boost Hydration
The goal should be to drink H2O before you ever feel thirsty, since being parched is a sign that you’re already experiencing mild hydration, Palm says. The CDC recommends drinking eight ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes if you’re outside in the heat.
6. Take An Oatmeal Bath
If you notice your skin turning red, get yourself out of the sun ASAP, says Palm. Then, chill your skin to alleviate the pain associated with sunburn with something like a cool bath with colloidal oatmeal.
Research shows colloidal oatmeal soothes the skin and improves dryness, scaliness, roughness, and itchiness.
7. Soothe Skin With Aloe
Another way to soothe a sunburn this summer? Aloe, of course! This cool plant’s calming properties make it helpful for those dealing with the pain associated with a sunburn, Palm says.
You can even use the gel directly from an aloe leaf if you have a plant at home. “Applying aloe vera gel produced straight from a natural leaf can greatly reduce pain from sunburns,” says Dorantes.
8. Eat More Richly-Colored Fruits and Veggies
Antioxidants are compounds that can both help protect your skin from sun damage (when used alongside sunscreen) and calm inflamed skin.
One such way to get more antioxidants in your life? By eating them! “Richly-colored vegetables and fruits may help with antioxidant protection,” says Palm.
Some examples: Blackberries are high in the antioxidant vitamin C, kale is packed with the antioxidant beta carotene, and tomatoes are loaded with the antioxidant lycopene.
As a recent study published in the journal Circulation notes, you should aim to eat approximately five servings of fruits and vegetables per day for maximum health rewards. What does a serving look like? Think half a cup of berries, half a cup of leafy greens, or two slices of tomatoes. Go ahead and load up your plate to reap the summer skin benefits!