As the sun starts to set later in the day and the thermostat soars, the last thing we want to do is stay cramped indoors when almost every activity beckons us to venture outside. And while we know that it's crucial to cover up and protect our skin from UV rays—which account for 80% of skin aging—it turns out the sun isn't the only cause of premature aging.
Apparently, a host of other summertime habits can wreak havoc on an otherwise youthful complexion. From having one too many glasses of rosé during the day to forgetting to wash your sheets regularly, these mistakes could leave your skin dull and lacking in elasticity by the end of the season. Take note: These five subtle habits might actually wreak havoc on your skin. Here's how to save face this summer.
Summer calls for rooftop cocktails, picnics, and outdoor celebrations where alcohol often flows in abundance. While we know that drinking too much isn't great for our liver, studies suggest it can also take its toll on your skin quality. According to dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, alcohol decreases your body's vitamin A levels, which is "important for cell renewal and cell turnover, and it gives you a healthy glow," she tells Refinery29.
"Summer celebrations and vacations usually mean way more sugar and alcohol in your day-to-day diet, which can take a toll on your digestive system and in turn show up on your skin," Tara Foley, founder of nontoxic beauty and skincare store Follain, tells MyDomaine. She explains that daytime drinking is a fast-track to dehydration, so it's important to shift your beauty regimen with the seasons. "Hydration, both from drinking water and from topical moisturizers, will help balance the effects of all that rosé!"
With more daylight hours in summer, it's only natural that our sleeping patterns change thanks to cues from our circadian rhythm. According to a clinical trial commissioned by Estée Lauder and conducted by physician-scientists at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, sleep deprivation doesn't just impact your energy levels and cognitive function—it's also linked to premature aging. In the study of 60 women aged 30 to 49, those who didn't sleep well showed signs of aging like fine lines, uneven pigmentation, and reduced skin elasticity.
"Lack of sleep is a potential stressor due to longer sun-up hours and more exciting things to do outdoors with friends!" says Foley. "Sleep and relaxation are so important for your skin (and overall health), so don’t forget to set time aside to recharge."
We'd be remiss to not mention UV rays, the leading cause of skin damage year-round. A study published in the medical journal Clinical, Cosmetic And Investigational Dermatology found that sun's rays account for 80% of skin aging and that even a slight 2% increase in skin damage ages a face by three years.
"All the top aestheticians we work with avoid the sun at all costs!" says Foley. "Laying out at the beach without a hat, umbrella, and ample sunscreen can do serious damage to your skin. While it’s not always realistic to completely avoid the sun, you should definitely take steps to ensure your skin is protected. In addition to hats, we recommend using a mineral sunscreen to physically block the sun’s rays."
If you prefer to swap the gym for the park in summer, it could be worth updating your regimen to include a product that protects your skin from pollutants. "It’s hard to call exercising outdoors unhealthy because it’s so great for body and mind, but the sun, sweat, wind, and pollution that come with it seriously stresses out your skin, making detoxing products like masks essential to help revitalize and decongest."
It might sound gross, but balmy summer nights can cause us to produce more sweat, which means washing and changing your sheets regularly is a must. A 2014 survey found that two thirds of people don't wash their sheets weekly, leaving an array of bacteria and dead skin to accumulate. Philip Tierno Jr., PhD, the director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University's Langone Medical Center, recommends washing sheets weekly to avoid a build-up of nasties.
Your skin isn't the only part of your face that shows signs of premature aging. Apparently, the outer layer of your eyeball, known as the cornea, is like the outer layer of skin and can be damaged by UV rays if not protected. "We have sunscreen we can put on our skin, but we don’t have eye drops that offer a protective film for the cornea, so it is really important that everyone, and especially people with fair or light eyes wear sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB rays," Deborah Sarnoff, MD, senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, tells Time. Before you buy a pair of sunglasses, check that the lens offers UV protection—just because the lens has a dark tint doesn't mean it's blocking those harmful rays.
How does your skin regimen change in summer?