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All right, Vermonters, let’s talk sun. You remember that magical orb of light that shows up for a few sweet months before tucking itself back in for the year? I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s finally here. And with that big old ball of joy comes picnics, hikes, swims, and … skin care! This winter, I went over some basic changes for a winter skin care routine to implement during the cold months (see the Winter Skin Glow article), now for hot-weather skin care tips.

We will start where we should, with sun protection. The sun is arguably the most damaging thing our skin is exposed to and yet, we so often overlook regular protection. While it’s important to soak up vitamin D and serotonin, it’s equally important to shield our skin from the obvious immediate implications of sun damage (the “Lobster Look” will never be a good one), and the deeper long-term effects (loss of elasticity, wrinkles, dark spots and possibly even the big ‘C’). Finding a safe and effective sunscreen is my no. 1 priority in summer, but the process of doing so can be downright baffling. Don’t worry, I’ve got you:

Go mineral or go home — Physical barrier sunscreens are wonderful. They don’t count on potentially harmful chemicals like homosalate, avobenzone and oxybenzone, which can disrupt hormone production, with especially concerning implications for our growing littles. Look for sunscreens with only the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium oxide.

Ain’t nothin’ in a number — SPF ratings can be super misleading. Generally, I recommend keeping it between 30 and 50 (less will not give you adequate protection, and more provides only very marginally better protection).

Don’t sweat it — Always, always pick a water-resistant sunscreen in the summer. With perspiration, swimming and just generally being active, without a little water resistance, you are going to find yourself needing to reapply every 10 minutes, and no one has time for that.

Just like you don’t use the same bar of soap on your body as you do on your face, picking a face-specific sunscreen will really help your skin stay looking (and behaving) its best. My personal pick for my body is by the brand Badger. Their sunscreens are great for your skin and also reef-safe to keep our oceans healthy. I love CocoKind for my face and importantly, it is also safe for the environment.

OK, now that we’re all slathered up and ready to have some fun, let’s talk summer skin care. I know it’s easy to panic at that first hat-line breakout, but put down the products. You should actually be trying to use less product during the hotter months. Your skin is more likely to be inflamed, irritated and oily in summer, so keeping your daily care routine clean and simple is the best thing you can do for it.

Double cleanse daily to get rid of sunscreen, sweat and grime buildup. Start with an oil cleanser to get a deeper cleanse, then pick up a gentle cleanser or even goat-milk yogurt for a second cleanse. Exfoliate weekly with a gentle enzyme; you want to avoid scrubbing your skin, letting enzymes do the work to dissolve and break down dead skin cells is much more effective and gentler. Calm and hydrate your skin with a simple hydrosol and nourishing oil. Using an oil to balance out your natural oil production (yes, even for oily skin types!) leads to fewer breakouts and happy, hydrated skin. For a special treat, masking with raw honey and goat’s milk yogurt feels amazing on stressed, summer skin.

A note for you Retinol users: It’s especially important that you protect your skin as it is more sensitive to the sun. On top of diligent sunscreen application, wear a hat when you leave the shade.

And finally, I would be remiss without reminding you all to up that water intake! Your skin (and aesthetician) will thank you. Happy Summer everyone!

Emily MacGregor is an esthetician at Rutland Integrative Health.

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