4 Ways to Prepare Skin for Sun Exposure Naturally

By Angela Tague in Healthy Feeling

It's almost sundress season! After a dry, windy winter, my skin could use some TLC before I slip into my favorite summer wear, including strappy sandals and leg-baring shorts. I bet you feel the same!

To prepare skin for sun exposure, focus on nourishing from the inside as well as the outside with these four methods: moisturizing, exfoliating, hydrating, and finding shade.

1. Get Your Summer Glow by Moisturizing

To get your skin in tip-top shape this season and to keep dryness at bay, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests taking shorter showers and baths, and using warm water instead of hot water. Immediately afterward, you should also pat your skin dry and apply moisturizer.

Over the years I've experimented with multiple lotions, creams, and oils—including olive oil— and I always come back to natural, single-ingredient moisturizers for their simplicity and effectiveness.

One of my favorite go-to moisturizers is coconut oil. A review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences explains that coconut oil has antimicrobial properties and acts as a protective barrier for skin. Thanks to its lauric acid component, it can help fight both fungi and bacteria. What's more, coconut oil may even help heal wounds and protect the skin from UV rays.

This delicious-smelling oil is a creamy solid at room temperature, making it easy to smooth over your skin like lotion. It melts quickly and absorbs into the skin in a few minutes. Try moisturizing with coconut oil after stepping out of the shower, and give it some time to work its hydrating magic before slipping into your clothes.

Another natural option is jojoba oil. This plant–based oil is widely used in sunscreens and moisturizers, according to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences review, and has proven to be effective in minimizing the symptoms of dermatitis and acne. Jojoba oil is also anti-inflammatory, making it a good option for those with skin infections or signs of aging skin.

Jojoba oil is a liquid, so you have to be careful when applying it to your skin, as oils can stain bedding and clothing. Start with a small amount in your hands, carefully rubbing them together, and then massage the oil into your skin.

Protecting skin from sun on beach

2. Exfoliate Dry Skin Away

Between moisturizing sessions, it's important to occasionally remove dead skin cells from the surface of your body. This is known as exfoliating. The frequency of this process depends on your method and skin type. Bottom line: if you notice your skin becoming red and irritated, you're exfoliating too often or pressing too hard.

The AAD recommends using a tool such as a soft-bristled brush or sponge to scrub away dead skin cells. Or, turn to an exfoliant product, such as a skin cream containing alpha and beta hydroxy acids that will gently dissolve the shedding cells.

Surprisingly, manually exfoliating skin isn't a great option for everyone. It depends on the sensitivity of your skin and any health conditions you're managing, such as acne. Start a conversation with your dermatologist to see if exfoliating can improve the appearance of your skin and make it more receptive to the application of skin care products, including medications and sunscreen, as you prepare your skin for sun exposure this season.

If you do choose to exfoliate before heading outdoors, always follow up with a moisturizer to hydrate the newly revealed, tender skin. This will help you maintain that radiant glow and avoid sunburn.

Sun exposure at the pool

3. Stay Hydrated for Supple Skin

Drinking more liquids keeps the cells in your body hydrated and functioning properly—including your skin. Ample moisture keeps your skin soft and supple, even if you spend lots of time outdoors in the wind and sun.

When your skin is not hydrated, you may notice tight, flaky, or dry skin, and eventually wrinkling, according to the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority.

The beverage of choice for optimal skin hydration is water. The age-old recommendation to drink eight glasses of water each day still holds true, according to the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. If you'll be outdoors, feel free to sip on more water than usual to keep cool and hydrate your skin.

To make plain water more enticing, I like to add fresh sliced fruits—including lemons, oranges, and limes—to my reusable water bottle. I've also made ice cubes from fruit juice for an extra splash of flavor.

Glass of lemon water

4. Enjoy the Sun from the Shade

Finally, protect your skin from sun exposure and avoid getting a sunburn by staying out of direct rays when possible. Take refuge in the shade or find ways to shade yourself with your fashion choices. I love to drape wraps over my arms, wear long peasant skirts to cover my legs, and put on a lightweight cowboy hat to protect my facial skin when I'm in the Midwest sun.

Of course, you should also prepare skin for sun exposure with facial and body sunscreen. I use a formula recommended by my dermatologist since I have rosacea on my face and two other forms of dermatitis on my legs and arms. Strike up a conversation with your healthcare provider to see what's best for your skin, especially if you have any skin concerns or are taking prescription medications that react to direct sun exposure.

Play in the shade

What outdoor adventures are you looking forward to this summer? Planting a garden? Beach walks? Starting a yoga routine on the patio? Tell us how you keep your skin healthy and glowing on Twitter!

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The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.


Why It's Good

You can naturally nourish your skin from winter to summer by making moisturizing, exfoliating, hydrating, and dressing for the weather part of your everyday routine. It only takes a few focused minutes each day. A healthy glow—from head to toe—will boost your skin's health and put a smile on your face.