Weekly challenge: summerproof your skin

Summer weather has finally arrived in Boston, and you’ll likely need to make some adjustments to your skin care routine as you head to the sandy beach or a chlorinated pool. Here’s how to maintain the health of your dermis—free from burns, dry scaly skin, and unsightly age spots.

Try the following.

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1. Preload sunscreen before a beach vacation. One dermatologist told Allure magazine that she applies sunscreen all over her body every day for two to three weeks before a beach vacation to allow the blocker chemicals to build up in her skin’s outer layer helping to reduce the risk of burning when she’s actually out in the sun. Does it work? I didn’t see any research to test the theory but a recent study found that the daily application of sunscreen prevents premature aging of the skin.

2. Look for three things on new sunscreen labels. New federal regulations require products to have broad spectrum protection against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays; if they don’t, they have to note that they don’t protect against skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. You should look for the words “broad spectrum” and “water resistant” on the label as well to get the best protection at the beach. If you’re prone to acne breakouts, use an oil-free sunscreen; sprays work best for the scalp.

3. Choose a summer-friendly moisturizer. For day, wear a moisturizer with sunscreen and consider using products containing antioxidants because they also have sun-protection properties, recommends the American Academy of Dermatology. At night, consider using products containing retinoids, peptides or growth factors to repair damage to the skin caused by sun exposure.

4. Treat sunburns promptly. The key is to reduce inflammation caused by the sun damage by applying cool compresses directly to the burn and taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain reliever like ibuprofen or aspirin. One dermatologist told Allure that she soaks a washcloth in a bowl of skim milk and ice and then applies it to her burn for five to ten minutes. She also applies over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to reduce the pain.

5. Exfoliate frequently. Dermatologists recommend adding an extra exfoliation session to your weekly skin routine. If you never use an exfoliating product to scrub away dead skin cells, you should be at least once or twice a week. You can try an exfoliation mask once or twice a week to soften and rehydrate sun-exposed skin. It will also make enlarged pores—typically during humid summer months—look smaller.