Simple solutions to summer's most common skin hang ups
Bug bites, sunburns, peeling skin—summer means a whole host of different skin hang ups than we're used to combatting in cooler temps.
By now you probably know some of the basics, like that you need to protect your skin from that scorching sun, but many people are still falling into some common skin care traps.
Below are some of the most frequently-made summertime skin mistakes—and easy solutions. Then tell us in the comments: What's your biggest summer skin complaint?
The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers in the U.S. are linked to sun exposure, and yet many of us still are not protecting ourselves. In fact, 49 percent of men and 29 percent of women say they have not used sunscreen in the past 12 months, according to a recent survey from The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Part of the reason why is that there's simple confusion as to what works and for how long. Only 32 percent of men said they considered themselves extremely or very knowledgeable about how to get adequate sun protection, according to the survey.
But anything is better than nothing. "Honestly, the best sunscreen is whatever the patient uses," Dr. Bobby Buka, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City, told HuffPost in May. "I'm not going to fight the battle about formulation."
Even among sunscreen loyalists, there's confusion as to how much sunscreen you really need and how often you should reapply. More than 60 percent of men said they believed one application would protect them for at least four hours, according to the same Skin Cancer Foundation survey.
In reality, most sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours, and more frequently if you're swimming or sweating.
During each application, make sure to use enough sunscreen to "generously coat" any skin that won't be covered by clothes, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends. Generally, that will be about an ounce of sunscreen, or enough to fill a shot glass, although you may need more depending on body size. One study found that most people use less than half that amount.
If you're not protecting your peepers when you're in the sun (and 27 percent of U.S. adults say they never do, according to a report from trade group The Vision Council), you're exposing yourself to a greater risk of cataracts, macular degeneration and skin cancer on the eyelids, which accounts for up to 10 percent of all skin cancers.
It's also important to throw on the right pair. Those cheap ones you picked up may not meet recommendations for UV ray protection. Look for a pair that blocks at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays, Men's Health reported, although that can be tricky because stores may label products incorrectly. Your best bet is to bring your sunglasses to an eye doctor, who can scan the lenses to measure how much protection they offer.
Wearing sunglasses can also help minimize wrinkles and fine lines caused by squinting.
If you want to look smooth before lounging poolside, take note that going in the water right after shaving, waxing or undergoing laser hair removal can cause irritation to that extra-sensitive skin, according to Glamour.com. Try to finish up the beauty routine at least a few hours before it's time to make a splash.
Feeling parched from the summer heat? Your skin may be too! Sun exposure saps moisture from skin, which can leave you looking flaky and scaly, Daily Glow explains.
Richer lotions and moisturizers are a good start, but part of the problem is you're likely not moisturizing from the inside out. Drinking more water can help, as can other hydrating sips, like coconut water, and Aeating foods with high water content, like watermelon and cucumbers.
Spending a lot of time in flip-flops can cause the skin around the heel to crack. Moisturizing daily can help, as can a weekly date with the pumice stone. If you're not too hot, Glamour.com recommends sleeping in socks. The fabric can help your moisturizer soak in.
We know that itch can feel like torture, but scratching itchy summer bug bites is a bad idea, Dr. Neal B. Schultz, a board-certified dermatologist in practice in New York City, told HuffPost in June. You're likely to break the skin more by scratching, which can expose the bite to infection. And scratching will only make bites more inflamed, he said, leading to greater itchiness and pain.
Instead, try a natural treatment, like ice, vinegar, witch hazel and more.