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Summer is skin deep

Loving the (summer) skin you’re in

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Once upon a time the skin on my face was as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

But then came adolescence and the visiting occasional zit that required a strict regimen of popping, alcohol and hand soap. As soon as the sun came out, it was time to head outside, slathering on baby oil and worse. My sister heard from a friend (who heard from a friend) that baby oil mixed with vinegar really deepened a tan, so there were days when we’d get into the house after a long day of frying, smelling of baby salad.

Those were not days I am proud of, nor were they days of enlightenment, although I suppose you could call them dark ages since I was, indeed, tan.

Of course, I had it all wrong, and am fortunate (at this point) that I have no cancerous after-effects of my days of skin abuse.

And I’m fortunate enough to have a friend — coincidentally, one with whom I will share a 20th High School Reunion — who is skin-enlightened and took the time to share her knowledge on summer skin.

Patty Heusers, a certified clinical esthetician at Northwest Skin Center, offers some summer skin advice. “Summer and winter are both equally harsh (to skin), just in different ways,” she says, with regards to the differences between summer skincare and winter skincare,

She elaborates: “In Winter we tend to be less active, but the environment is sucking the moisture out of our skin so at night we typically need a heavier moisturizer ... not to necessarily penetrate ... but to form a bit of a barrier on the skin. The same goes in summer, but if we tend to use a heavier moisturizer, we sweat more and, voila, clogged pores! So specific serums are the way to go to get nutrients into the skin.”

She suggests following serums with an appropriate SPF product in the day and moisturizer at night.

With regards to sunscreens, Heusers recommends a layering approach with a topical Vitamin C (only when listed as L Ascorbic acid form) and a sunscreen with any one of these active ingredients: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone (AKA Parsol 1789) and the newly touted, FDA-approved Helioplex or Mexoryl.

Vitamin C, Heusers emphasizes, “is key, always, twenty-four-seven. It’s a free-radical scavenger, so it’s invisible protection during immediate damaging effects from the environment in the summer.”

“You are subtly attacked year round with the UVA rays penetrating the cloud cover and the rain,” she warns, and explains that the Vitamin C also works on “brightening the skin, increasing hydration and helping to lighten the look of brown spots.”

Heuser continues: “The combo of the two (Vitamin C & SPF) is the best protection you can get and the strongest anti-aging you can do for yourself.”

And this doesn’t just apply to those of us facing 20-year high school reunions.  “Your skin’s exposure from baby-dom through your early ’20s is the damage that shows up in your ’30s and ’40s, so young ones beware and reapply your sunscreen every three hours when in the sun and harsh environment (I mean beautiful summer weather),” advises Heuser.

And, of course, with skin care there’s always more you can do. In terms of exfoliation, which is a highly recommended winter ritual, Heuser says “Go lighter on exfoliation, but even better, switch to enzyme exfoliators. … They work like Pac-man on the skin, digesting the dead protein (old skin) and leaving the new skin alone.”

Heuser emphasizes, “During summer sun exposure you may want to only (exfoliate) twice a month, if even that much. … You’re compromising its barrier function with exposure — don’t do it more by over exfoliating.”

Heuser recommends a “cocktail/skin marinade” of a soothing hydrating masque immediately after enzyme exfoliation, and goes so far as to mandate, “That actually should be a law.”

She also recommends, for summer replenishing, products with the ingredients Hyloraunic Acid, as well as Lactobionic Acid and Gluconolactone. “Just because it says ‘acid’ doesn’t mean it is an Alpha/Beta Hydroxy Acid and aggressive,” she notes.

Last but not least for summer skin care, Heusers recommends a couple of items without multi-syllabic lab names: 99 percent or higher aloe vera gel (in the fridge, used topically) and green tea.

Heuser elaborates: “Green tea is another amazing antioxidant both internally and topically. You can steep a green tea bag and keep in the fridge for a week and soak cotton rounds, then place on eyes for soothing effects.”

These pads can also be used for after-wax redness, as well as a facial pack for a 15-minute rest.

And just in case you were feeling sad that July seems to be racing to an end, bringing the looming shadow of autumn, Heuser offers this optimistic note:

“Fall is great because you can get your skin in check and regulated after summer exposure and gear up for winter.”

[Northwest Skin Center, St. Clare Medical Pavilion, 11311 Bridgeport Way S.W., Suite 201, Lakewood, 253.581.8751, appointments only,]

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