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The Best Ways to Soothe Summer Skin Irritations

Woman with sunburn
July 27, 2017 Reviewed by Holly Dawsey 0 Comments

Winter is always dubbed the season of skin sensitivities, but summer also causes its fair share of issues — rosacea flare-ups are frequent in the heat, over-sebaceous oil glands can create congested complexions, and we are obviously more prone to sunburns. Happily, there are a host of ingredients that soothe and heal the skin.

In fact, a recent clinical trial showed that high doses of vitamin D reduce the skin redness, swelling, and inflammation from sunburn to a great extent. In a double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial out of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, 20 participants were randomized to receive a placebo pill or 50,000, 100,000, or 200,000 IU of vitamin D one hour after small UV lamp induced burn on their inner arm. Skin biopsies were then collected from each participant.

Participants with the highest blood levels of vitamin D showed less skin redness and a jump in gene activity related to skin barrier repair. Those who consumed the highest doses of vitamin D also showed long-lasting benefits, including less skin inflammation 48 hours after the burn. “We hypothesize that vitamin D helps promote protective barriers in the skin by rapidly reducing inflammation. What we did not expect was that at a certain dose, vitamin D not only was capable of suppressing inflammation, it was also activating skin repair genes,” says Kurt Lu, MD, senior author on the study and Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.

An annoying rash or sunburned skin can quickly sideline summer fun. So, whether you got an accidental burn or are just prone to redness and irritation, don’t spend your days in agony. Keep scrolling to learn more ways to stay calm through the end of summer.

Soothe angry sunburns

Though it may sound obvious, it is important to begin treating sunburn as soon as you notice it. To help heal and soothe burned skin, start by placing a cold and damp towel over areas that received too much sun to help draw out some of the heat. Then, apply a product with known soothing ingredients like aloe vera, milk thistle and vitamin E. Finally, load up on antioxidants. These free-radical scavengers will help repair some of the damage that has been done.

Try Sciote Solis Sun Recovery Face Serum ($69 in the shop), which is packed with antioxidants including milk thistle, green tea and schisandra.

Keep blemishes at bay

The combination of sweat and the over-production of oil during warmer months often leads to more frequent breakouts —e specially if your skin is already acne-prone. Dermatologists recommend washing your face morning and night and blotting (not wiping) off sweat with a clean towel or blotting paper throughout the day. Another idea is spritzing on a clarifying toner, like I Pekar Hungarian Thermal Water Tonik ($88 in the shop).

It’s also key to look for non-comedogenic — meaning they won’t clog your pores — moisturizing products. But when you do inevitably start to notice a new pimple forming, reach for a product with salicylic acid. This beta hydroxy acid has the ability to travel deep into the pore where it works to dissolve bacteria buildup and loosen dead skin cells. What’s more, salicylic acid has also been shown to reduce information (aka the painful swelling associated with acne). ExPürtise Effective Anti-Aging Ultra Purifying Cleanser contains witch hazel ($36 in the shop) contains witch hazel, a natural source of SA.

Control redness

Even if you aren’t prone to redness, there are many factors that can lead to a patchy, red complexion in the summer months. The most obvious being over-heating. When sweat glands become blocked by lotions or clothing, you can begin to form a rash. To prevent this from occurring, try to keep your skin dry and cool.

To treat splotchy areas, look for calming products with anti-inflammatory ingredients that constrict blood vessels to reduce the redness. Teprenone has been shown to fight redness and increase hydration levels; it can be found in Medik8 Red Alert ($60 in the shop). Your Best Face recently reformulated its popular day cream, Balance ($49 in the shop), to include a unique peptide called Telangyn, which works to offsets the effects of inflammation, including—you guessed it—redness.

Ease rosacea flare-ups

According to the National Rosacea Society, heat often brings on the signs and symptoms of rosacea. One study, funded by the organization, found that individuals with rosacea produce greater nerve, blood flow and sweating responses than people without the disorder when exposed to increased heat or stress. The results showed that symptoms may be in part due to sympathetic nerve over-activity, so avoiding triggers are key.

Derms suggest bathing or showering in cold water if a flare-up has been triggered. In some cases, retinols prescribed at low doses can actually be effective, depending on the symptoms and type of rosacea. But to manage symptoms over the counter, look for gently exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids. Try La Vie Celeste Restorative Exfoliating Gel Mask ($60 in the shop). Azelaic acid has also been shown to clear the bumps, lesions and swelling caused by rosacea.

Hydrate without adding weight

Though not as common, you may experience a strange mix of dry, tight and sweaty skin during the summer. Doctors say the common causes are spending a lot of time in the sun, humidity, air-conditioning and chlorinated pool or salty ocean water. Keep skin clean but switch to non-drying face cleansers and body washes. Finally, load up on lotion.

For the face, we like Dr. Dennis Gross Hydra-Pure Intense Moisture Cream ($125 in the shop) with squalene, which mimics your skin’s natural oils, water-retaining hyaluronic acid and a number of emollient oils. For the body, try Prana SpaCeuticals Firming Body Emulsion ($28 in the shop). It doubles as a cellulite smoother! 

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