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How to maintain healthy skin during the hottest of summers

Published on Saturday, May 1, 2021

By: Ruth Cummins

It’s in the 90s in the Mississippi sun, and your face gets oily and sweaty if you step one toe outside. Do you really have to moisturize, seeing that your face is doomed to being wet?

The answer is yes, according to a University of Mississippi Medical Center dermatologist.


“Just like we lighten our clothes in the summer, we should lighten our skin care in the summer - but that doesn’t mean not to moisturize,” said Dr. Kimberley Ward, professor of dermatology and director of cosmetic dermatology. “Rather than a heavier cream moisturizer, I’d suggest a lotion.

“Use a moisturizer with sunscreen for the face, neck and chest daily. For outdoor activities, be sure to use sun protection on all exposed skin.”

Ward offers the following tips for those who want to maintain healthy skin in the face of sun, dirt and other summertime elements that can prove unhealthy:

  • Switch to a foaming face cleanser rather than a non-foaming cleanser you might use in the winter.

    “In the summer, your skin builds up oil, sweat and grime, and you need something that can cut through the grease,” she said.
  • Step up facial exfoliation.
    “This is more for your face than your body,” Ward said. “You need to keep your pores clear, because oil and dirt and grime can clog them and contribute to acne.

    “You can do this mechanically with gritty scrubs, but I recommend a fine gritty scrub, not one with large, coarse granules.”

    Chemical exfoliants include alpha hydroxy acid, beta hydroxy acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid.
    “They will help keep your skin bright and decrease acne,” she said.
  • Be generous with the facial sunscreen.
    “We generally recommend SPF 30 or higher,” Ward said. “Studies show the higher the SPF, the better, because it’s probably compensating for the fact that some people don’t apply enough of it.”

    She said sunscreens can be broken into two categories, mineral inorganic and chemical organic.

    “That refers to whether it has a benzene ring or not. The inorganic sunscreens are ones that contain ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They reflect the sun’s rays and are better for people with sensitive skin.”
    Chemical organic sunscreens have active ingredients that are non-natural and contain chemicals, including oxybenzone, avobenzone and octinoxate.

    “Look for the active ingredients on your sunscreen,” she said. “Zinc oxide is my favorite, because it has the broadest spectrum. But if you don’t have sensitive skin, you can absolutely use the chemical sunscreen.”
  • Lastly, men need a good skin care regimen just as much as women do.

    “In general, men have oilier skin than women,” Ward said. “Men should be cleaning and exfoliating their skin and protecting it from the sun, just as women do.

    “A lot of men aren’t great with using a moisturizer, but a lighter moisturizer with a good SPF is good for men.”

To make an appointment with a skin care expert in UMMC’s Department of Dermatology, call (601) 815-3374 to receive care at the UMMC Pavilion on the main campus in Jackson; at the University Physicians Face and Skin Center in Ridgeland; at University Physicians Grants Ferry in Flowood; and at UMMC Dermatology in Louisville.

 The above article appears in CONSULT, UMMC’s monthly e-newsletter sharing news about cutting-edge clinical and health science education advances and innovative biomedical research at the Medical Center and giving you tips and suggestions on how you and the people you love can live a healthier life. Click here and enter your email address to receive CONSULT free of charge. You may cancel at any time.