Beach Beauty Guide: Tips to Keep Your Skin and Hair Healthy This Summer

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As a board certified plastic surgeon who has grown up and now practices in Beverly Hills, I’ve had my fair share of experience in managing skin and beauty issues related to the sun and sand. My approach is to address the skin and hair in three phases: before going to the beach, at the beach, and after the beach. There are a few of themes that carry through the entire spectrum, specifically hydration, moisturization, and sun protection.


BEFORE THE BEACH 

It’s always smart to prepare for the sun, sand, and ocean water. If your skin is healthy when you go the beach, you will suffer less damage afterwards. These are important tips for every day, and are even more important before going to the beach.
  • Stay very well hydrated. It’s important to drink lots of water to keep your skin and hair hydrated and prevent them from getting dried out.
  • Keep your skin well moisturized. Use a nice rich moisturizing cream that works well for your skin. It's particularly important to use a hypoallergenic product, as lots of sun exposure can cause skin hypersensitivity.
  • Be Hair Prepared. Go into beach season with a well-defined hair regimen that is not over-drying or damaging.
  • Eat plenty of Sun-Fighting Superfoods. Increasing evidence is showing the skin protective effects of certain foods. The good news is that these delicious foods make for a perfect summer meal. These include tomatoes, carrots, deep dark vegetables, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, kiwis and oranges, almonds, sunflower seeds, red apples, green tea, red snapper fish, and dark chocolate.
Be careful with medications. It's important to take a look at medications that you are taking which may contribute to sunburns. Of course, it's critical to consult your physician before stopping or altering the course of any medication you're taking. There are many important classes of medication to consider (this is far from a complete list):
  • Antibiotics - Tetracycline, doxycycline or bactrim (trimethoprim)
  • Acne medications - Accutane, Benzoyl Peroxide.
  • Antidepressants - Tricyclic antidepressants, St. John’s Wort
  • Cholesterol Medications - “Statin” drug family
  • Many more

AT THE BEACH

While having fun at the beach, it’s very important to keep your skin and hair in mind. Don’t forget the important rules of hydration, moisturization, and sun protection.
  • Keep drinking water! The sun, wind, and salt water all can dehydrate your body and skin. The better hydrated you stay, the less sun damage you will have.
  • Be aggressive with sun protection. Protecting your skin from the sun is the single most important thing you can do while at the beach:
    • Use a good sun block with at least SPF 30 to best protect your skin. A good tip is to try the sunblock at home before going to the beach to make sure it agrees with your skin, rubs in well, and doesn’t cause any reactions.
    • Don’t forget your lips! Use a good lip protector – it will both protect against sun damage and keep your lips from drying out.
    • Keep covered – don’t forget to wear a hat, sarong/cover-up, and sunglasses.
  • Rinse off. Wash off with cool water after coming out of the ocean or pool. Getting the salt water off will help protect your skin and hair from getting dried out from the remaining salt and chemicals. Use cool water, as hot water over stimulates the sebaceous glands and can result in greasy hair.
  • Care for your hair! Use a good UV protector for your hair – at the least, wear a hat. Coconut oil is amazing at the beach and is showing new benefits for the whole body every day. Coconut oil has lots of hair protecting vitamin E as well as lauric and capric acids which all work together to keep your hair healthy and strong.
  • Snack smart. While you’re relaxing, munch on a sun-fighting salad, have some water with raspberry or kiwi infusion, or enjoy some almonds.

AFTER THE BEACH

Taking care of your hair and skin after the beach can bring them back to health and happiness. If you get a sunburn or not, helping your skin and hair recover from a day at the beach is critical to ensuring good health.
  • Aggressively moisturize your skin. Use a product with aloe (or later on, lactic acid) to promote healing and reduce pain. Keep yourself as moisturized as possible in the dry or sunburned areas! Avoid products with emollients. In cases of sunburn (particularly on the face), try the product in a small area of sunburn on your arm or other area first to see if it works well and is not irritating. 
  • Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water to prevent your skin from drying out and enhance your body's ability to recover from the sun and heal a sunburn.
  • Soothe and hydrate your skin. Use a cold moist towel to soothe the your skin. Apply cucumber or potato slices to your face or sunburned areas or take an oatmeal bath. These have the added benefit of being quite relaxing and enjoyable!
  • Protect yourself from the sun. It's critical to really amp up your sun protection after a burn or prolonged sun exposure. Your skin may already be damaged and is particularly susceptible to even more injury. Good protection will make the difference from suffering a mild sunburn to developing a severe, blistering burn that can have both short and long-term consequences. Use sunblock frequently and cover your skin with your clothes and a hat.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals on the skin. Try to avoid using lots of soap or other chemicals on your skin that can dry it out. Try to avoid using lots of makeup on your skin. If you have to use a foundation to cover up the burn, use a mineral foundation that will minimize injury and irritation to the skin. As with the moisturizing creams, try the product in a small area of sunburn on your arm or other area first to see if it works well and is not irritating.
  • Treat the pain. Treating the pain of a sunburn can be tricky. Anti-inflammatory pain medications such as ibuprofen can make the sun damage worse or sensitize you to further sun exposure. They can be used carefully with strict adherence to a no-sun policy. If you need to take pain medication, you should consider contacting a physician. It's also critical to stay very well hydrated when taking any anti-inflammatory medications.

With a little attention, taking care of your skin is as easy as a day at the beach!

Article by
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon