Summer fun in the sun is wonderful! And yet, it can trigger a temper tantrum on your skin with redness, dryness, and irritation. But there's no need to stress out. Here are some ways to soothe and repair everything from sunburns to bug bites.
How does skin get stressed?
Your skin's surface, otherwise known as the "skin barrier," acts as a protective shield from external influencers, so it's directly and constantly affected by the environment. This could be anything from a chlorinated swimming pool or salty seawater, which can dehydrate your skin and make it vulnerable to irritation. "The number one environmental stressor for the skin--and one you can't completely avoid--is sun exposure. This is why sun protection is so important, not just in the summertime, but all year round," says Nazanin Saedi, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Philadelphia, PA, and associate professor of dermatology at Thomas Jefferson University. She recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily (even on non-sunny ones, since UV rays cut through clouds).
Stressed skin can be red and itchy or dry and flaky. "These are all SOS signals that your barrier has been compromised. Many factors can irritate the protective barrier. For example, active ingredients like retinol, harsh cleansers, or even a long hot shower can deplete your skin of moisture and make it red and vulnerable," says Saedi.
Your stressed skin rescue planThe key to keeping your skin barrier healthy, happy, and strong is moisture--lots of it. You want to add it to each step of your routine every day. Start by using a gentle, hydrating body wash, and then (when your skin is still slightly damp) apply an emollient moisturizer that will lock in hydration. "Look for humectant ingredients in your cleanser, like glycerin, niacinamide, or hyaluronic acid, that help attract water to the skin. Next, choose lotions and creams with occlusive barrier-protecting ingredients like ceramides, coconut oil, dimethicone, shea butter, or petrolatum to seal in that moisture." This daily two-step cleansing + moisturizing routine will keep redness, dryness, and irritation at bay. It also keeps your skin soft, smooth, and glowing. (Try MyKirei by KAO Nourishing Body Wash, an ultra-gentle hydrating daily cleanser, as your Step 1. Then, follow it up with Step 2: MyKirei by KAO Soothing Peony Milky Lotion, which is packed with humectants like glycerin and emollients such as shea butter).
How to heal & repair
Even with a great hydrating regimen in place, it's bound to happen: You might overdo it in the sun, over-scrub your skin, or maybe your kids were playing Marco Polo in the pool for too long. All of these can trigger dryness, irritation, and skin stress. So again, the secret is cleansing and moisturizing with gentle formulas. Still, you also need to have healing ingredients at the ready, like aloe vera, calendula, chamomile, cucumber, or niacinamide, Saedi says. "To soothe a sunburn or heat rash, you can make a cold compress by dunking a soft washcloth in ice water or even just roll an ice cube over the skin to take the heat down." To calm the redness or inflammation of a minor burn, apply aloe vera gel directly onto the area. "I keep a tube of aloe gel chilled in the fridge, so it feels cold and takes the sting away the minute you put it on. And, if you have an aloe plant at home, you can simply cut off a leaf and smear the healing jelly straight onto your skin," suggests Saedi. "And I always have over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory hydrocortisone cream on hand to treat itching and redness from a bug bite or rash.
MyKirei by KAO Nourishing Body Wash is infused with rice water, which has humectant properties and is rich in allantoin, a natural humectant known to hydrate and soothe the skin. Rice starch has been found to calm skin irritation and improve skin barrier function.
MyKirei by KAO Soothing Peony Milky Lotion contains rice water and Japanese peony extract, which have anti-inflammatory properties known to calm skin.