Sun Protection: How To Protect Your Skin During A Heatwave

The skin is the largest organ of the body and experiences the effects of a heatwave the most when compared to the other organs. With increased heat levels and damaging rays from the sun, it can lead to detrimental effects on the skin.

Hence, the skin needs to be protected by employing appropriate protection measures such as using sunscreen, staying hydrated, and staying indoors. After-care is also required when going out in the heatwave is an unavoidable circumstance.

woman, wearing a pink bikini, applying sun protection during a heatwave

Home remedies and replenishing the electrolytes in the body can be of great help in such a situation.

Thanks to global warming, heatwaves are becoming more and more common during the summer months. Its effects on the health of the body and the skin are tremendous. As the skin is the most exposed organ of the body it bears most of the brunt of the higher temperatures. It can even lose its natural glow and become withered due to loss of water from the body.

The effects of sun damage such as hyperpigmentation and sunburn can also become visible on your skin. So, protecting the skin and the body during such increased atmospheric temperatures is imperative to avoid permanent damage. Measures need to be taken all through the hot weather as well as during the heatwave to counteract its effects.

Specific skin concerns need to be administered with a wholesome skincare routine and after-care steps. The breakdown is explained in detail in the following sections.

How Does The Heatwave Affect Your Skin?

Higher than normal temperatures are accompanied by increased humidity levels and this last for longer periods of time to classify as a heatwave.

woman standing at a balcony, facing outwards, with her arms spread looking towards the sun.

When the skin has exposure to such extreme weather conditions, vital functions are interrupted and the skin cells become damaged in the process as well.

Common effects of heatwaves on the skin include the following:

Heat Rashes

heatwave effects: a woman scratching her back, pained and red.

The sweat produced by the sweat glands in the skin blocks the pores in the skin and produces prickly heat or heat rashes. Small bumps (may or may not be filled with fluid) develop on areas such as the arms, back, chest, and neck.

Swelling and redness are often seen in the affected areas.

Heat Edema

The prolonged warm temperatures can affect the water retention capacity on the skin cells and cause an increase in it.

Extremities of the body such as hands and feet swell up and remain so for a few days until the body acclimatises to the heat.

Suggested Article: Switch Your Skincare Up for Summer (for Dry Skin).


Extended exposure to sunlight during a heatwave can cause the skin to literally burn because of the damaging UV rays. Redness, swelling, and tenderness are common symptoms. Blisters and peeling skin are also seen in many cases.

Suggested Article: How to Cover Sunburn with Makeup.

Hyperpigmentation and Tanning

UV rays increase melanin production in the skin, which is a brown pigment present in skin cells. More melanin equals an increase in pigmentation in the form of dark spots or sunspots. When larger areas are affected, the hyperpigmentation is often referred to as a suntan.

Prominent tan lines can easily show which areas of the skin have had exposure to sunlight and those areas that haven’t.

Dry Skin

Dehydration from the high temperatures can make your skin dry and even itchy.

Fine Lines and Wrinkles

The damaging sun rays during a heatwave can impact the skin’s texture and smoothness by speeding up the ageing process. Fine lines start to appear prematurely and steal away the youthful appearance of your skin.


How to Keep Your Skin Protected During a Heatwave

Whether you are indoors or outdoors, always keep the skin protected so that minimal sun damage and heat damage occurs. Follow this routine as much as possible to avoid unnecessary effects like sun tanning, dark spots, redness, and rashes.

Apply Sunscreen

woman seated on textile applying sunscreen, during a heatwave.

Avoid going out in the sun during a heatwave, especially during the 12 pm to 4 pm time frame as this is when the UV rays are the strongest and most harmful. But when you do, always, always, always apply sunscreen! This point cannot be emphasised enough.

Pick a sunscreen or sunblock with a minimum SPF of 30 and apply it about 15 to 20 minutes before you step outside. Even if it is a little cloudy, sunscreen is mandatory.

Pick a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide as these act as physical barriers against the UV rays. It is vital that you re-apply the sunscreen every two to three hours because the effects of UV blocking agents in the lotion or cream start to fade away after this period. Keep a small tube with you and transfer some sunscreen into a travel-sized bottle to keep it in your bag.

Suggested Article: How to Reapply Sunscreen While Wearing Makeup.

Antioxidant Cream

A cream or serum rich in antioxidants and made to tackle sun damage should be a part of your daily skin routine. This will keep the skin protected and also tackle the sun damage effects as and when they occur.

Cover Up during a Heatwave

Wear full-sleeved tops and full-length bottom wear to keep the skin protected from direct exposure to sunlight. This might sound claustrophobic considering the high temperatures outside during summer, but you can always pick soft materials and cotton clothing.

Breathable fabrics will keep the airflow going and minimise sweat.

woman wearing a hat in sunshine, which is always advisable during a heatwave.

Protect Your Hair

Use hats, umbrellas, and scarves to cover up your head and protect the hair and scalp from sunlight. It’s better to be safe than sorry later.

How To Keep The Skin Hydrated?

Apply Moisturiser

Apply a moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated and nourished. Next time you’re out shopping look out for keywords like ‘hydrating’ and ‘nourishing’ in a summertime moisturiser.

These products have a formula that is there to tackle dryness, as well as, any associated itchiness as well. Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient to look out for in your moisturiser or serum. This type of chemical helps to lock in the moisture and keep the skin hydrated for long.

Hydrate the Skin during a Heatwave

Drink eight to 10 glasses of water every day as internally hydrating the skin is as important as using topical hydrating agents. Carry along with you a facial mist and keep spritzing it every hour or so to keep the skin refreshed and hydrated throughout the day. This is especially important when you are going to be out in the sun.

Overnight moisturising masks replenish the skin while you get your beauty sleep and keep it hydrated and supple for the next few days. Repeat this every four to five days depending on how parched your skin is.

woman wearing a white sheet mask, smiling, prep your skin.


A refreshing and oil-controlling toner is another great addition that you can add to your skincare routine. It will help open up skin pores and get rid of all the accumulated dirt and grime that is clogging your pores. This will eventually help maintain optimal skin hydration levels.


A tip that may not have expected to come across when looking for ways to keep the skin hydrated during summer is exfoliation. Homemade scrubs or commercially available ones will help to remove all the dead skin cells and let the creams, lotions, and serums that you use be absorbed efficiently into the skin.

How to Prevent or Treat Any Effects of Sun Damage

The effects of sun damage during a heatwave can range from mild to extreme. For damage that is manageable at home, use the following solutions.

If you notice excessive skin peeling and other symptoms like nausea, headache, and fever, consult a doctor at the earliest.

For Sunburn

Get indoors as soon as possible and take a cool showerAdd mix some milk and honey in a bowl to apply on the exposed areas and let it sit on the skin for 15 to 20 minutes. Apply a soothing cream that preferably contains vitamin E or C after you take the shower.

This will help to keep the skin nourished and the antioxidant property of the vitamins will aid the skin cells from recovering from the sun damage.

the back of a woman on a beach, with her sunburnt shoulder displayed with clothing having left an outline.

For Pigmentation

To remove sun tan and other types of pigmentation, there are many home remedies you can use. Diligent usage is required to see the desired results with these remedies.

Here are a few of our favourites.

Lemon and Honey

Mix the juice from a lemon with about two teaspoons of honey and apply it on the face and neck. Leave it on the skin for 10 to 15 minutes and wash it off. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water in a 1:2 ratio and apply it to the affected skin using a cotton ball.

Rinse it off after about seven to eight minutes.

used lemons in a white bowl next to fresh whole lemons on a white background
When life gives you lemons…

Papaya and Honey

Mash a few pieces of ripe papaya and add one tablespoon of milk and honey each to it. Mix everything together and apply this as a face mask. Rinse it off with tepid water after 15 minutes.

Shop-Bought Creams

Specialised creams are available at beauty stores that target the pigmentation and help to lighten the skin. Ingredients that act as skin lighteners include hydroquinone, kojic acid, glycolic acid, and even some mild steroids.

Always invest in one that is for your skin type!

For Redness and Inflammation

Wrap an ice cube in a soft towel and pat it on the red and inflamed skin. This will help reduce the tenderness as well. This is great for those that have sensitive skin that becomes red and flushed easily.

You can also use skin care products that target redness. These kinds of products make great additions to your beauty products cabinet. 

Suggested Article: Skin Redness – 7 Reasons Your Skin Is Red And Sensitive And How To Fix It.

For Prickly Heat Rashes

Cool showers work to soothe heat rashes well. Applying fresh aloe vera gel is also a great home remedy that can alleviate the redness, inflammation, itching, and other associated symptoms.

aloe vera gel with a gradient grey background.

For Dryness

Apply a nourishing moisturiser after you take a shower to supply the skin with the required nutrients like fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Combining Extra Virgin Olive Oil with a few drops of rose oil is another alternative that soothes dry, itchy skin.

Suggested Article: Skin Tightening Treatments For Ageing Skin That Really Work.

For Anti-Ageing

Skincare products that contain anti-ageing elements like antioxidants and collagen-inducing components can help target the fine lines and wrinkles that develop due to sun damage.

A natural alternative for anti-ageing is to mix an egg white with a few drops of carrier oil (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.), a teaspoon of honey, and a few drops of lemon juice; and apply this on the skin. Let the face mask dry and rinse it off with lukewarm water.

Essential oils such as rosemary oil, rosehip oil, and geranium oil can be combined with a carrier oil and massaged into the skin using circular motions.

Repeat this every night for faster results.


Going on holiday and looking to protect your favourite perfume from heat damage? Read on for how to ‘Make Your Perfume Last Longer in Hot Weather‘.

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