Let me explain. Winters may seem like a harsh season when it comes to our skin, hair & health (and it is). But we are well aware of the issues that arise from cold weather. The side effect of dry air is pretty obvious. So we minimize the risk by amping up our moisture routines.
Summer is a bit trickier because the dangers aren't quite as obvious. I believe that summer has the potential to accelerate aging and other beauty related concerns. Worse yet, we might not even be aware of what's happening. Let's discuss the potential downside of summer and how we can avoid it.
Let's start off with the most obvious. I'm sure all of us are aware the dangers associated with UV rays. Pretty much all of the visible signs of aging we see in others is related to the break down of collagen as a result of sun exposure. As women of color, we do have some natural sun protection in the form of melanin, but that doesn't protect our skin 100%. When my skin was observed under one of those machines that can see signs of sun damage, I was shocked to learned that I had some trouble areas. The good news was that the sun damage was only evident near my hairline and around my eyebrows. This tells me that wearing sunscreen daily was actually making a difference.....I just needed to pay a bit more attention to detail during application.
The worse part about sun damage is that it's occurring the below the surface. It'll take years for the effects to show. Meanwhile, we act like nothing is happening while making the whole situation worse. We have to religiously apply sunscreen whether we want to or not. It's like investing in the future of or skin. This summer, I'm taking it a step further and applying sunscreen all over whenever my skin is exposed (not just on the the face). Especially when I'm wearing a cute summer dress.
Simply put, if you aren't putting sun protection as a priority, you are actually contributing to the aging of your skin.
The other thing we have to worry about this time of year is the health of our hair. There are threats coming from all sides. First off, the sun hates your hair. Too much sun exposure is taking away the actual integrity of your strands. Take necessary action to protect your hair. You might want to experiment with products that give your hair a little sun protection or those that contain 18-MEA. This is a compound found in the strands that protects it from damage. Too much sun exposure is robbing your hair's natural lipid (18-MEA). That's why your hair always feels so dry after a day outside.
On a positive note, our hair is growing faster this time of year, but on the flip side, we could be causing excess damage from UV rays, chlorine from swimming pools, and the like. Summer provides the perfect recipe for dry hair and I suggest we stay on the offense by making sure we deep condition like crazy, find powerful products that actually impact the cuticle, and keep moisture levels as high as possible.
The other pitfall of summer is our diet. I noticed that last winter, all I ate was bone broth with rice noodles and I sipped on several cups of green tea or bamboo tea throughout the day. Now, I'm eating burgers & fries while enjoying various tasty mixed drinks. The amount of sugar and fat I'm consuming is not cool. Summer is all about BBQs, ice cream, and food festivals. Not only are we at risk for gaining weight, put processing all the sugar and junk food is impacting us at a cellular level. Junk food is typically harder to process & digest. Most processed food are void of micronutrients and provide very little benefit to our gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria is so important and must be protected at all costs! This time of year we just have to be a little more mindful of what we're eating so we can balance it with nutritious, nourishing foods as well.
The last, and maybe not most obvious, danger of this season is dehydration. Never mind the fact that we're sweating more than ever and need to replenish it with water. Keep in mind that we're more active and require more water on that fact alone. Let me remind you of yet another reason why we should up our water intake this time of year.
The other day, my AC went out. It's an older system so it was time to finally get it replaced. The sales guy talked me through my available options. As he walked through the features of newer units, he boasted of how they would remove humidity from the air making it a more comfortable environment. In my mind I was like "hold up!" The last thing I want is drier air circulating throughout the house. I told the guy that I sleep with two humidifiers and wouldn't want an AC to rob me of valuable moisture. He understood where I was coming from and showed me options that didn't have the special "anti-humidity" feature.
Even if you aren't outside sweating, your AC unit could be robbing your skin & hair of additional moisture. Remember that. It's the silent enemy that most of us aren't aware of. Everything I talked about aren't concerns that create immediate consequences, but they are impacting us little by little. So let's start practicing habits that reduce the possible damage that can occur this summer.