woman soaking up sun, fernando brasil

by Dr. Dhai Barr

As our weather in the Pacific Northwest starts to heat up, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about summer skin care. We certainly want to look our best year round and taking care of our skin during the sunny summer months is a great place to start. By preparing your skin for the summer sun, you’ll avoid damage such as dark spots and sunburn.


The easiest and least expensive thing that you can do for summer skin care is to STAY HYDRATED! Drink a lot of water—it’s great for your skin, not to mention every other cell in your body.


While I am a fan of UV protection I’m also an avid and smart sun worshipper.  UV rays in small or controlled amounts actually do us a lot of good. Being in the sun promotes bone health and is cardio-protective, anti-cancer, anti-depressant while also reducing flu and even diabetes.

We all know the negative consequences of too much sun damage. It’s common knowledge too much sun can increase the risk of skin cancer and premature aging. However, there are health benefits of sunning in small and frequent doses.  These dose requirements vary by location, time of year, time of day, and atmospheric conditions. According to the World Health Organization sun protection is only required when the UV Index is 3 or greater.

There is evidence that suggests vitamin D levels play a role in cancer prevention by exerting antiproliferative effects. The higher the level of vitamin D the better protection. However, we need the sun’s rays to synthesize vitamin D. In Portland we suffer from low vitamin D levels because of our cloud cover.  In fact, Oregon has some of the highest incidence of skin cancer, and this is likely due to the low levels of UV during most of our year

summer skin care infographic showing the do's and dont's
Click to open, click again to enlarge

So how do you become a smart sun worshipper?  Start as early as you can in the springtime to get yourself exposed.  Expose large body parts for a brief 10-15 minutes at a time.  During the summer months get your sunshine early in the day a couple times a week.  Cover up or seek shade during the mid to late afternoon sun.

Don’t go out on the ocean, a lake or river without a broad spectrum sunblock!  Don’t put yourself into a situation where you can’t get any shade or limit your sun exposure.  The bottom line is don’t burn. There is an optimal balance between the sun’s benefits and risk of over exposure. 

Aesthetic Treatments

We all want to look our best and continue with our anti-aging aesthetic practices, but not all of them are recommended during the sunny summer months.  Between Memorial Day and Labor day it’s best to limit some therapies.  Intense pulsed light treatments for skin tightening as well as sun spot or hair removal need to be done with caution.  If you have a tan or intend to be out in the sun, avoid these treatments.

Chemical peels should also be avoided if you have any desire to be in the sun.  Peels act as an exfoliator, removing the dead skin cells.  Dead skin cells actually contain the protective element of melanin and, when dead skin cells are stripped off, the protection is as well.

We do have peel alternatives for the summer months which are great for detoxing and rejuvenating the skin. These include enzyme masks which help dissolve surface cells and regulate oil production, keeping your pores clear of debris.  Antioxidant treatments are another good option – they help give the skin a much-needed boost of antioxidants which can help protect the skin from UV damage during the months when UV exposure is at its peak.

summer skin care, optimal balance between sun benefits and overexposure
There is an optimal balance between the sun’s benefits and risk of overexposure. 

Avoid having any major skin resurfacing done.  This includes energy-based treatments such as ablative or non-ablative radiofrequency, CO2 lasers, HALO, etc.  This is because, similar to peels, the top skin layers are removed which takes away the protection those skin cells provided.

Microneedling or Collagen Induction Therapy does not damage or remove the epidermis. This makes it is a safe summer aesthetic procedure.  After treatment, you will need to stay cool and not overexert yourself during the first 24 hours. 

Skin Care Regimen

Daily summer skin care products with powerful antioxidants will keep your skin protected and healthy throughout the season. Start early, incorporating ingredients such as vitamins C and E before the summer hits to allow your skin to get used to these ingredients. You’ll glide into summer with strong, healthy skin, preemptively preventing damage. Continued use of antioxidant products every morning throughout the summer — and the rest of the year! — will give your skin an extra boost of UV protection and prevent skin damage.  Use a moisturizer to seal in hydration.

At Oregon Regenerative Medicine we carry PCA Products which are ideal for keeping your skin healthy year round. In particular, C-Quench, C&E Advanced and C&E Max are highly beneficial as part of your summer skin care routine.

The bottom line here is that with a little common sense such as drinking plenty of water, using smart sun exposure techniques, a daily skin care routine along with sun-friendly aesthetic treatments, you’ll keep your skin glowing and improving even during the summer months.


Photo Credits: Fernando Brasil and Azamat Zhanisov on Unsplash