The Skinny on Healthy Skin
By Anna Sachse
Okay, so maybe you did your pre-summer crunches, push-ups and squats, and maybe you even ran around the block a couple hundred times, all to look extra hot in your snug swim trunks or teenie-weenie string bikini; but here we are in August and perhaps there’s something you’ve been neglecting that can make even the most awesomely toned bodies (think our governor in the eighties, or the women he sexually harassed) look a little lackluster: your skin.
Sun, salt, chlorine, wind, sweat—all these things and more can make summer skin dry, dull, cracked and leathery. But never fear! Here are a few tips to save you from yourself.
Your skin sheds its surface (epidermal) cells at a shockingly rapid rate—just rub your arm the next time you’re in the shower and you’ll notice how the dead cells will start clumping together. Another gross way of demonstrating this fact to yourself is ring-around-the-collar; that dark stain isn’t just dirt or sweat, it’s your dead flesh. Anyhow, if you don’t rid yourself of expired cells, they just stay put, making your skin look grey and flaky. To combat this problem, hit the shower with a gentle body scrub. Invest in a quality product or make your own with ingredients like sea salt or oatmeal mixed with olive or sweet almond oil and vitamin E (you just don’t want anything too abrasive or it can scratch, irritate and weaken skin). Slowly rub your exfoliator in a circular pattern over your entire body from the shoulders down (use a face-specific product on the thin skin of your face and neck), and be sure to include your feet, which have most likely been flip-flopped within an inch of their lives. Now you’re ready to . . .
Exfoliating has made your skin primed and ready for moisturizer, which you most definitely need. Yeah, maybe you sweat more during the hot summer months, which might make you feel slimy, but that process is actually dehydrating. Add the drying nature of chlorine and saltwater, and your skin could end up more powdery than the sand at Santa Monica beach. Replenish thirsty cells by applying a lightweight, water-based lotion as soon as you dry off from your shower, so that moisture is locked in. Avoid thick, oil-based creams as they may clog pores. But no matter what, your preferred product should include . . .
There is nothing stupider than not wearing sunscreen. Sunburn equals skin cancer equals death. Well, not always, but even if you make it through unscathed by cancer, excessive sun exposure leads to wrinkles, sun-spots and a splotchy, uneven skin tone. I even know a girl who looks like she has a faint moustache, which is actually just sun damage exacerbated by smoking cigarettes. It’s not worth it. No matter what the weather is, always wear a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 or higher, apply it liberally, and remember to reapply every two hours. If you need more of a golden glow, try a tinted lotion or self-tanner—the fact that you exfoliated will actually make for more even color distribution, so high five. But equally as obvious, you should also . . .
Hydrate your skin from the inside out by drinking at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day. If it’s hot or humid out, or you’re exercising, drink more. Not only will your skin plump up (you can usually tell by whether or not your lips look like prunes), it’s less likely that the rest of you will get plump (water is filling, improved energy and may even boost metabolism). Which means all those trips around the block were not in vain.