Beat the Heat

Bushra Hakim uncovers the best practices for keeping your skin healthy and radiant amidst the Middle Eastern heat.

Summer is upon us and, while people around the world rejoice in the warmth and sunshine, here in the Middle East, the season can be a challenge. The relentless heat and intense sun can take a toll on our skin, making it crucial to adapt our skincare routines to stay fresh and protected. Instead of leisurely afternoons in the sun, we find ourselves seeking refuge in the cool indoors, with our skin battling dehydration, sunburn and the harsh effects of the climate. Dr Aysha Almedfa, a dermatologist specialist in the Middle East, offers her expert advice on how to keep your skin at its best during the hottest months of the year.

EFFECTS OF EXTREME HEAT ON SKIN

During the warmer months, with the increase in heat, humidity and sweating, many may experience heightened oiliness in their skin, leading to acne breakouts on the face, upper back and chest. Excessive sweating can also lead to fungal infections, particularly in areas such as the groin and underarms. Dr Aysha explains: “The intense heat and wearing occlusive clothing may increase the risk of folliculitis – a bacterial infection of the hair follicles – and may also lead to the development of a heat rash, which occurs when sweat glands become blocked.” Prolonged sun exposure is another major concern, as it can cause UV damage and the development of sunburn. Sun exposure can also exacerbate preexisting skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, particularly for patients with melasma, and can worsen rosacea.

SUMMER SKINCARE

Adapting your skincare routine to combat the heat is essential. “Being diligent with the use of sunscreen is crucial. Choose a broad-spectrum with an SPF of 30 or higher and make sure to apply it generously to all exposed areas of the skin, including the ears, lips, back of the neck and tops of the feet. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if swimming, exercising or sweating profusely,” says Dr Aysha.

Ensuring your skin stays hydrated is also vital. There is a common misconception that oily skin doesn’t require moisturiser; however, that’s not true. Using a lightweight, mattifying moisturiser can help control the extra shine while ensuring your skin stays properly hydrated. Cleansing is another important step. Use an appropriate cleanser based on your skin type. Finally, consider using lightweight make-up and sunscreens to feel fresh during the hot months.

PREVENTING AND TREATING ACNE

Managing acne-prone skin in hot weather can be particularly challenging due to the increased sweating and oil production. Dr Aysha recommends choosing non-comedogenic, oil-free products to keep your skin clear. “Opt for lightweight, mattifying moisturisers and sunscreens specifically formulated for oily skin,” she advises, as these products help prevent clogged pores and manage excess oil. Foaming cleansers are beneficial for acne-prone skin. These cleansers effectively remove excess oil without stripping the skin. Additionally, it’s important to avoid over-exfoliating, which can irritate the complexion and aggravate acne. Instead, use a gentle salicylic acid cleanser once or twice a week to control oil production and keep pores clear.

DEALING WITH HEAT

Staying hydrated internally is just as important as your external skincare routine. Dr Aysha underscores the critical importance of drinking ample water throughout the day to maintain skin hydration and overall health. In addition, adopt comprehensive sun safety practices to shield your skin from the sun’s harsh effects. With the ozone layer depleting, sunscreen application is imperative; opt for waterproof or water-resistant formulas for prolonged outdoor activities. Apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours or more frequently if swimming, sweating heavily or exercising. Avoid direct sunlight between 10am and 4pm, when UV rays are most intense, and seek shade during these hours to further protect your skin. Accessories such as sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing offer additional defence against UV radiation.

Staying hydrated internally is just as important as your external skincare routine. Dr Aysha underscores the critical importance of drinking ample water throughout the day to maintain skin hydration and overall health. In addition, adopt comprehensive sun safety practices to shield your skin from the sun’s harsh effects. With the ozone layer depleting, sunscreen application is imperative; opt for waterproof or water-resistant formulas for prolonged outdoor activities. Apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours or more frequently if swimming, sweating heavily or exercising. Avoid direct sunlight between 10am and 4pm, when UV rays are most intense, and seek shade during these hours to further protect your skin. Accessories such as sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing offer additional defence against UV radiation.

GENERAL TIPS

While skincare routines often focus on specific products and treatments, it’s essential not to overlook the importance of general tips for maintaining healthy skin. These holistic approaches can complement your skincare regimen and contribute to overall skin health.

Diet: Incorporate foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, into your diet to protect your skin from damage. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and flaxseeds, can help keep your skin hydrated and reduce inflammation. Additionally, excessive sugar and dairy intake should be limited to prevent acne breakouts.

Sleep: Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night to allow your skin to enter repair mode. Sufficient rest is essential for maintaining healthy, radiant skin and preventing dullness and fatigue.

Stress Management: High-stress levels can exacerbate skin issues like acne and eczema. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing exercises to keep stress levels in check and promote overall skin health. Taking care of your mental well-being is just as important as your skincare routine for achieving a glowing, healthy complexion.

Connect with Dr Aysha Almedfa
@dr.aysha.almedfa

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