Your Healthiest Summer Glow Starts from Within

Are you ready for summer? You know – that time of year when you run out of excuses to hide behind those layers of outerwear and are forced to give up the goods. When called upon to flash the flesh at the beach and poolside, you’ll want your skin to look its best.

Summer has its own set of rules when it comes to keeping skin healthy and hydrated, says Laura Hittleman, Canyon Ranch Corporate Beauty Services Director.

“We all feel good when someone tells us, ‘You have such a healthy glow!’ or ‘You look refreshed and have some nice color,’” Laura says. “Unfortunately, a lot of us still don’t want to believe that a healthy glow can mean serious skin damage.”

Skin-care experts agree on the fundamental rule in preventing premature aging: Maintain the health of your skin from the inside out.

Hydration, hydration, hydration
For a fresh, youthful-looking complexion, Laura says, “The number one thing you can do is stay hydrated – that means drinking those recommended eight glasses of water every day. The importance of this cannot be overstated.”

Eat a balanced diet to make sure your skin is getting all the fantastic anti-aging benefits from antioxidants and other nutrients. Take advantage of the season when it’s easy to find lots of fresh, colorful fruits and veggies locally. Look for high-quality protein sources and small amounts of monosaturated “good” fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts.

On the other hand, watch out for foods that will wreak havoc on your skin’s appearance. Salt is a major culprit – those puffy eyes might be today’s reminder of the bucket of popcorn you inhaled last night at the movies. And watch the sugar intake: Elevated blood sugar can weaken the skin by affecting tissues like collagen, leaving you more vulnerable to lines and wrinkles.

Water, Water EverywhereWater, Water Everywhere – Watch this video featuring Canyon Ranch Executive Chef Scott Uehlein as he explores the importance of water and demonstrates tasty recipes great for hydration.

5 Summer Skin Care Myths

1. MYTH:
If you live in a humid climate, dry skin isn’t a problem.

Whether it’s the “dry heat”of desert areas or a sweltering coastal climate, summer heat tends to leave you more dehydrated. Even if you drink your eight glasses of water daily and use a moisturizing lotion on face and body, your skin may be thirsty for a little more in the summertime. Some tips: 

  • A nourishing, replenishing face mask once or twice a week will keep your skin at its best. Vitamin A and C are powerhouse ingredients, with their ability to produce collagen and elastin and counteract the pigmentation that often results from sun exposure.
  • When choosing a moisturizer, in a dry climate you’ll probably want an oil-based formula to lock in moisture. In high-humidity areas, look for emollient formulations that are water-based or oil-free – they’re lighter in texture, more likely to absorb into the skin quickly and won’t leave your skin feeling sticky or slimy.

2. MYTH:
When it comes to safeguarding skin health, any sun exposure is bad.

Your skin should have some contact with sunlight in order to synthesize vitamin D, which plays an important role in staving off osteoporosis and heart disease. So it’s OK to get a little sun, but learn to be sun-wise. Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and if you plan to be out in the sun for more than 10 minutes a day, use sunscreen and be sure to stay hydrated.

According to the American Cancer Society, the amount of vitamin D made when skin is exposed to sunlight varies, depending on a number of factors. For example, the farther away from the equator you live, the less light reaches your skin. Darker-skinned people need somewhat longer exposures to trigger their bodies to make vitamin D; older people make less vitamin D than younger people in response to sunlight.

3. MYTH:
You can get all the vitamin D you need from nutrients in food.

While it’s true that the best way to get your recommended daily allowance of most essential nutrients is through the food you eat, it can be a challenge to get enough vitamin D from diet alone. That’s why certain foods – milk, for example – often contain supplemental vitamin D. The best natural sources are salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, as well as fish liver oils.

A surprising number of us are vitamin D deficient, which can manifest in osteoporosis, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and chronic pain. If you think you might be deficient, talk to your doctor about being tested and/or taking a supplement.

4. MYTH:
All sunscreens reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Not true. According to the Food and Drug Administration, a sunscreen product may carry a claim that it helps protect against sunburn and reduce the risk of skin cancer only if it has an SPF of 15 or higher and is broad-spectrum – meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. These benefits come only if you use the product properly and consistently, so be sure to read the label instructions carefully.

And by the way, everyone needs sun protection, no exceptions: This includes people who have dark skin, people who boast that they “never burn” and people with no family history of skin cancer.

5. MYTH:
any brand of sunscreen will do as long as the label says SPF 15 or higher.

This is one of those times when it pays to read labels! Select a product that has titanium dioxide – it serves as a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. If you are going to be active and outdoors for hours at a time, use a water-resistant product and be sure to reapply it every two hours. Always look for sunscreen with protection from both UVA and UVB rays. UV rays penetrate cloud cover and most glass, so it makes sense to wear sunscreen even if it’s overcast or cool, or if you spend a lot of time driving or indoors near a window or under a skylight. Sunscreen also works best when it has had time to be absorbed – best to apply it 15 minutes before going outside.

Long to Tan? Yes You Can!

Self-tanning lotions, sprays and creams have come a long way in recent years. The better-quality products are safe, effective and won’t leave you looking like a spotted pumpkin. Still, trying a self-tanning product at home for the first time can be daunting.

“It’s the safest way to tan, so I’m all in favor of these products,” says Laura Hittleman, Canyon Ranch Corporate Director of Beauty Services.

The secret to acquiring a great tan from a bottle, Laura says, is to exfoliate first. “You need to apply your product to a clean, hydrated palette – just like makeup. Remove the dead skin cells and apply the product to well-hydrated skin for an even application and a longer-lasting finish.”

Are there any particular ingredients to look for in a self-tanning product?
“There are many options out there today, some with more natural, organic ingredients than we have seen in the past,” Laura says. She recommends going the organic route but cautions that the shelf life of these products can be limited. “Keep an eye on the expiration date. The age of the product definitely will affect its performance, so like most sun protection products you’ll want to use them before they expire.”