4 skincare mistakes to avoid making during summer 2015

Katelyn Sim

In addition to warmer weather and more sunlight than we’ve seen in months, summer presents an array of skin obstacles we seem to have forgotten how to hurdle ourselves over.

Bug bites, peeling skin that no amount of aloe vera can soothe and cheeks pink from sun exposure — all summer skin symptoms we can handle, right? Maybe we’ve got the basics down — we should be protecting our skin from too much sun, but every time the northern hemisphere tilts back toward our closest star, we fall victim of simple skin care mistakes.

Below is a list of 4 most common skincare mistakes to avoid in summer 2015.

Sunscreen: Applying it incorrectly or not at all. There’s a reason lotions, cosmetics and lip balms market products containing SPF, Sun Protection Factor, so heavily. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, almost 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Although we seem to know sunscreen is important, the confusion and misuse of the product can be sourced back to our confusion of what sunscreen really is and how it works.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the longer of the two associated with lasting skin damage and aging, while Ultraviolet B (UVB) is the shorter wave known for causing sunburns. Both forms of UV radiation, however, are linked with skin cancer. Sunscreens prevent the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, from reaching the skin and are measured by SPF, the ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin.

“I think many people associate a greater SPF with the prevention of tanning their skin. I’ve been guilty of not wearing sunscreen at all, especially in the beginning of the summer because I thought I’d tan faster without it.” said Amy Westrick, junior in marketing.

The truth is, when applied frequently and generously coated, sunscreens prevent skin from tanning as much without. But here’s the catch: it should. While bronze skin is a signature summer look in society today, tan skin now could lead to skin aging and cancers.

Sunglasses: Our sight, one of our most valued senses, allows us to see and experience the world in a way we often take for granted. According to a Mayo Clinic article about choosing sunglasses, M.D. Dennis Robertson answered that “UV radiation from the sun can damage not only the skin of your eyelid but also the cornea, lens and other parts of the eye. UV exposure also contributes to the development of certain types of cataracts and possibly macular degeneration.” Not covering your eyes from sunny July days significantly increases your exposure to harmful UV effects.

In addition to simply wearing sunglasses, it’s also critical we chose the right pair. Mayo Clinic suggests choosing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UBA rays. Surprisingly, the color and degree of darkness in lenses aren’t correlated with the amount of UV protection of the sunglasses. For those spending summers near water, polarized lenses reduce the glare of light reflection.

Hydration: Inside and out. Not only does the summer heat have dehydrating effects, frequent sun exposure quickly dries out your skin as well. The best way to combat dry skin any time of the year is through drinking plenty of water. According to an article from the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, staying well-hydrated is always important, particularly in the summer months when the temperature rises and our perspiration (sweating) increases. Therefore, during the summer we are advised to increase our water consumption by a few glasses. Eating foods that are high in water content like cucumbers and watermelon is also recommended.

Scratching bug bites: No amount of bug repellant can guarantee a bug bite free summer and no amount of lotion or ice seems to remedy the tortuous urge to itch them.

“My least favorite part of summer is the bugs and bug bites because you can’t really avoid them.” said Rachel Walsh, junior in apparel, merchandising and design. 

Scratching bug bites, although temporarily relieving, is a bad idea. Rachel Saslow with The Washington Post received expert advice that “If you scratch an insect bite vigorously enough to break the skin, the bacteria from underneath your fingernails could cause a skin infection.” Every time we scratch bug bites, the body releases more histamines, which only leads to more redness, swelling and itching.