Late summer is a great time to think about how to prolong your summer glow
But first, let’s dig into the process of skin pigmentation. Melanocytes are the skin cells that intervene in the process of skin pigmentation that occurs between the two main layers of the skin: the dermis and the epidermis. These melanocytes are responsible for the production of melanin — the main pigment that colors your skin and your hair. Melanin develops in the presence of both photo stimulants: UVA and UVB.
As the Medieval women knew by maintaining their skin porcelain white — tanning is a natural defense mechanism at the cutaneous level against UV aggression. The more your epidermis is exposed to the sun, the more melanin is produced 2-3 days later by melanocytes to protect the skin from the sun. This stimulation diffuses into other cells in your epidermis — keratinocytes.
Thus, during sun exposure, a second main mechanism kicks in: keratinocytes (the cells that account for 90% of your skin) multiply more frequently than usual to form a thick layer to protect the cells at the base of the epidermis known as ‘basal cells’. Keratinocyte cell multiplication is responsible for the skin’s protection against UVBs and dehydration.
Your skin in summer is indeed thicker than in winter to protect itself!
This all means that when exposed to more sun, your skin is more active than usual. Nonetheless, UVs generate free radicals that the skin needs to neutralize. In order to do this, the skin produces enzymes that unfortunately get depleted— the more melanin is produced by tanning, the more the skin loses its capacity to create enough enzymes to combat the free radicals. In roughly a quarter of an hour the skin loses all the vitamin E that it has and is not capable of synthesizing its own.
What can you do after a long summer in the Sun?
1. Increase your antioxidant intake
In September you’ll want to feed your skin extra antioxidants (phytochemicals that are capable of fighting free radicals), anti-inflammatory agents and soothing botanicals.
Vitamin C and other antioxidants are plentiful at this time of year — peaches, grapes, raspberries, strawberries etc.) This is the season to eat fruit! At Anato we emphasize the importance of eating locally and in season, which significantly helps the liver’s detoxification system.
When it comes to cooking at harvest season, I incorporate as many herbs as possible into my day-to-day : thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, tarragon… seaweed is also fabulous (I’m fortunate enough to graze on kelp every time I get out for a surf :)
[Learn more about incorporating seawaeed into your diet here].
Vitamin E is a lipo-soluble vitamin, meaning that it is made available to the body when surrounded by lipids. Vitamin E oil is great in principle but it’s not the most shelf-stable and often comes from GMO monocrop sunflower seeds or soy. Therefore instead of recommending topical application I recommend internal consumption of vitamin E. My favorite sources are avocados and home-grown sprouts.
*Always check in with your health care provider prior to implementing any dietary changes
2. Use Gentle Exfoliation
In order to avoid hyperkeratinization (an extra build up of dead skin cells at the surface of the skin) developed during the summer months, you’ll want to gently exfoliate. This can include the use of our Kelp Forest Mask & Polish on your entire body with its soft sea clay & coastal botanicals, or the use of raw honey from your local farmers market with its gentle-acting fruit acids that serve to exfoliate your skin in a non-mechanical manner.
The importance of exfoliating after Summer for acne-prone skin
If you’re the type of person to get acne, you might have noticed that after a long summer with fewer breakouts, when back-to-school comes around you get post-summer ‘rebound acne’. We touched on the fact that the skin thickens throughout the summer months — the pores of the sebaceous glands thicken alongside general skin thickening and bacteria tends to proliferate.
If you’re concerned with rebound acne then you’ll want to make sure you exfoliate at least once a week — back, torso, face… wherever your breakouts occur. Find more acne-specific skin routine tips here.
3. Hydrate and repair
For instance, in the morning you can apply regenerative elixir and at night baume réparateur after a shower to avoid transepidermal water loss and restore the skin’s functionality that includes its hydrolipidic film.
Both formulas have emollient jojoba oil and olive oil respectively, as well as perennial plant-based shea butter and candelilla wax in the baume réparateur.
4. Maintaining your melanin to prolong your tan
Post sun-exposure your skin needs 3 days to regenerate melanin. In order to aid its synthesis your skin desires peptides that aid with melanin production.
Amino acids are indispensable for healthy skin — they are the building blocks of peptides and proteins. In addition, most amino acids help your skin to reproduce its own antioxidants.
Both kelp and honey mentioned above contain amino acids your skin craves after Summer.
So in addition to exfoliating, you can leave on the Kelp Forest Mask & Polish or honey as a mask.
Beta carotene, precursor to vitamin A also participates in melanin production. When it comes to this particular lipo-soluble vitamin, I strongly encourage internal consumption over external application. Beta carotene is found in many orange fruits and veggies.
Some ideas for fruit: apricot, cantaloupe, oranges, persimmons (mangoes & papaya if you’re in the tropics). Vegetables: leafy greens, red and yellow bell peppers, summer squash.
If you like a colorful plate you can also incorporate yellow/orange edible flowers into your diet. In the past I’ve foraged for dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale), nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus), orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) flowers and calendula (Calendula officinalis) flowers. Yellow squash (Cucurbita maxima) flowers also have beta-carotene.
Since beta-carotene is lipo-soluble, remember to consume those fruits or veggies alongside a fatty acid: olive oil drizzled on your salad, coconut oil or ghee drizzled on your fruit…
*Always check in with your health care provider prior to implementing any dietary recommendations
KEEPING YOUR SUMMER GLOW FOR LONGER
☼ Increase your antioxidant intake by eating foods that are rich in Vitamin C & E
☼ Gently exfoliate your skin: Honey masks & our Kelp Forest Mask & Polish are great options
☼ Hydrate with skincare products that contain oils and waxes
☼ Eat beta-carotene & amino acid rich foods
Voilà, if you’re a person who likes a tan we hope these tips help you prolong that lovely hue!
Learn how to cook with seaweed, the benefits & more with our free, downloadable guide ↓
ReferencesFernandes, L., Ramalhosa, E., Pereira, J. A., Saraiva, J. A., & Casal, S. (2018). The unexplored potential of edible flowers lipids. Agriculture, 8(10), 146.