How To Protect Your Skin During A Heatwave

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

The skin is the largest organ of the body and experiences the effects of a heatwave the most, compared any other organ. The increased heat levels and damaging rays from the sun can cause detrimental effects on the skin. Hence, it’s important to protect the skin by employing appropriate protection measures.

This includes using sunscreen, staying hydrated, and staying indoors as much as possible. After-care use is always good for when going out in the heatwave is an unavoidable circumstance.

Home remedies and replenishing the electrolytes in the body can be of great help in such a situation. Thanks to the effects of global warming, heatwaves are becoming more common during the summer months. But, its effects on the health of the body and the skin can be tremendous.

during a heatwave, an inflatable pink flamingo floating in the sea.
It is so easy to forget about the damage the sun can do, during a heatwave, when you’re out having fun.

The skin, being the most exposed organ of the body bears most of the brunt of the higher than normal temperatures in such surroundings. It loses its natural glow, becomes withered due to loss of water from the body, and experiences the effects of sun damage. Therefore, you are more prone to hyperpigmentation and sunburn. 

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Protecting the skin and the body during such atmospheric temperatures is imperative to avoid permanent damage or life-threatening effects like skin cancer.

There are measures to be taken all through the hot weather and especially during the heatwave to counteract its effects. Specific skin concerns need to be dealt with a wholesome skincare routine and after-care steps. The breakdown is explained in detail in the following sections.

Can a heatwave affect your skin?

Higher than normal temperatures are accompanied by increased humidity levels. This lasts for longer periods of time to classify as a heatwave. When the skin is exposed to such extreme weather conditions, vital functions are interrupted and the skin cells become damaged in the process.

woman posing with a masked/photoshopped layer of dry/cracked skin.

Common effects of heatwave on the skin

Heat Rashes

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 develop on areas such as the arms, back, chest, and neck.

Swelling and redness are also often seen in the affected areas.

Heat Edema

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

Sunburn

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.

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Hyperpigmentation and Tanning

UV rays increase melanin production in the skin, which is a brown pigment present in skin cells. More melanin equals to increase in pigmentation in the form of dark spots or sunspots. When larger areas are affected, the hyperpigmentation is often referred to as a skin-tan. Prominent tan lines are visible that demarcate the areas of the skin that were exposed to sunlight and those that weren’t.

Dry Skin

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

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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.

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heatwave, sunglasses being held high up to cover sun, whilst on the beach.

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.

Timing is Key

Avoid going out in the sun during a heatwave, especially during the 12 pm to 4 pm time frame. This is when the UV rays are usually the strongest and most harmful.

Apply Sunscreen

Always, always, always apply sunscreen! This point cannot be emphasized enough. Pick a sunscreen or sunblock with a minimum SPF of 30 and apply it about 15 to 20 minutes before you step out of the house. 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.

The effects of UV blocking agents in the lotion or cream start to fade away after this period. Try and transfer some sunscreen into a travel-sized bottle to keep it in your bag.

A tube of sunscreen by a swimming pool.

Reverse the Damage

A cream or serum rich in antioxidants that are specifically for tackling 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.

Dress Right to Keep Protected

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. However, you can always pick soft materials and cotton clothing. Breathable fabrics will keep the airflow going and minimise sweat. 

Also, don’t neglect your hair.  Use hats to cover up your head and protect the hair and scalp from sunlight.  It’s better to be safe than be sorry later.

a woman standing in a field, during a heatwave, wearing a long dress and hat.

How to keep the skin hydrated during a heatwave.

Moisturise

Apply a moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated and nourished. Look out for keywords like ‘hydrating’ and ‘nourishing’ when you go shopping for a summertime moisturiser. These products are formulated to tackle dryness and associated itchiness as well.

Hyaluronic acid is also an ingredient to look out for in your moisturiser or serum. This chemical helps to lock in the moisture and keep the skin hydrated for long. Overnight moisturising masks can replenish the skin while you get your beauty sleep and keep it hydrated and supple for the next few days.

during a heatwave: a person squeezing moisturiser out of a tube on to their hand with a sink in the background.

Use a Facial Mist

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, especially when you are going to be out in the sun. Repeat this every four to five days depending on how parched your skin is.

A refreshing and oil-controlling toner is another great addition that you can make 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 maintain optimal skin hydration levels.

woman exfoliating her leg with an exfoliating brush

Don’t forget to Exfoliate

A tip that you did not expect 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. This will let the creams, lotions, and serums, that you use, be absorbed efficiently into the skin.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drink eight to 10 glasses of water every day as internally hydrating the skin is as important as using topical hydrating agents.

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running tap water into a tall glass, at the sink.

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.

Sunburn

  1. Get indoors as soon as possible and take a cool shower.
  2. Add 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.
  3. 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.

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.

  1.  Mix the juice from a lemon with about two teaspoons of honey and apply it on the face and neck.
  2. Leave it on the skin for 10 to 15 minutes and wash it off.
  3. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water in a 1:2 ratio and apply it to the affected skin using a cotton ball.
  4. Rinse it off after about seven to eight minutes.
  5. Mash a few pieces of ripe papaya and add one tablespoon of milk and honey each to it.
  6. Mix everything together and apply this as a face mask.
  7. Rinse it off with tepid water after 15 minutes.

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. Invest in one that is for your skin type.

 Redness and Inflammation

  1. 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.
  2. Skincare products that target redness are a great addition to make to your beauty products cabinet if you have sensitive skin that becomes red and flushed easily.

Prickly Heat Rashes

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

Dryness

  1. Apply a nourishing moisturiser after you take a shower to supply the skin with the required nutrients like fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
  2. Extra virgin olive oil with a few drops of rose oil is a great alternative that soothes dry, itchy skin.

Anti-ageing

  1. Skin care 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Let the face mask dry and rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  4. 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.
  5. Repeat this every night for faster results.

 

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