Thanks to climate change, the extreme heat and blistering sunshine that heatwaves bring is likely to become a more common occurrence in the UK, according to the Royal Meteorological Society (opens in new tab).
And while it’s all good and well basking in this unusually hot weather all in the name of a good tan, heatwaves can be pretty brutal on the body, even if you don’t realise it. The after-effects aren’t just limited to a burnt shoulder or forehead. They can include dehydration, exhaustion - and in a worst-case scenario - skin damage such as permanent ageing or even cancer.
It’s therefore paramount to do all you can to protect yourself from the various heatwaves that will inevitably be taking over Britain during these summer months. Here’s how, using the latest skincare products.
1. Opt for an SPF with a high UV protection rating
Not everyone is aware of this, but one top tip is to take note of the star rating on the back of every SPF.
Dr Rosh, Medical Director of leading aesthetics clinic, KLNIK, says:
“Not all SPF 30 or 50s are the same. The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection Look for ones with a star rating of 4-5 stars.”
“When the skin is exposed to sunlight, apply and regularly reapply a sun protection product SPF 30 or above,” he adds.
One of the best all round SPFs I’ve tested is UltraSun’s 50SPF Sport Gel (opens in new tab). This clear, grease-free gel evaporates almost as soon as it hits the skin, providing a lightweight but high factor protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays. It’s also highly waterproof and a little bit goes a long way, so will last you ages.
2. Apply body moisturiser before SPF
While it sounds a little backwards, Dr Ross Medical Director of Cosmedics skin clinics advises moisturising before applying high SPF 50.
“Sunblock can be slightly itchy if it’s put directly onto dry skin,” he says, adding that it also helps it absorb more efficiently.
Solbari’s Sensitive Skin Calming Cream (opens in new tab) is a good choice here, as is an Australian made daily moisturising cream that is easily spreadable, quickly absorbed and provides a non-greasy feel. Enriched with organic colloidal oatmeal, it also helps soothe the skin and restore skin moisture.
“When it comes to the SPF, opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen which protects against the UVA and UVB’s rays,” adds Dr Ross. “The UVA are the aging rays and UVB and the burning rays,” he adds. “Also, make sure your SPF is still in date. They normally have a shelf life of around two years and won’t offer nearly as much protection if they’re out of date.”
3. Include SPF in your daily skin routine
Even if you’re not going outside to purposely catch some rays and get some colour to your skin, cosmetic doctor, Dr Rita Rakus, advises that you should still make SPF a vital part of your skincare regime during a heatwave, even if it's cloudy.
“Use a high-factor, broad spectrum SPF daily to protect your face and hands from damage. Many people think of SPFs as thick white creams that sit on the surface of the skin and give you a pasty white cast but there are now a number of products from budget to luxury that absorb beautifully into the skin, providing both moisture and protection.”
Look out for skincare brands that feature SPF in their daily face moisturisers, for example. One of my all-round favourites is Kielhs Ultra Facial Cream (opens in new tab), which contains a high SPF of 30 to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays. With a light, smooth texture, it leaves the skin feeling less dry and more balanced, especially during hotter weather.
4. Keep pores clear and avoid heat-causing breakouts with a face cleanser
When it’s hot outside it’s natural for our bodies to sweat, meaning more oil is produced which could eventually lead to our pores clogging up and our skin becoming more prone to breakouts, says says Dr Asher Sidiqqi, medical aesthetic expert at Transform Hospital Group (opens in new tab).
“It’s important to cleanse after sweating to avoid salt settling in your pores and affecting the skin’s barrier function, he explains.
Carbon Theory’s tea tree oil cleansing bar (opens in new tab) is only £6 on the high street and is full of super-absorbent activated charcoal particles to draw out dirt and unblock pores joined by the purifying properties of tea tree oil to cleanse the skin and kill bacteria. It will also last you a long time.
5. Switch out aftersun for a topical CBD cream
Is there anything CBD cannot do - seriously. Yes, it can even help with skin problems as a result of heat damage. Don’t believe me? Fine, take the advice from Doctor Giuseppe Aragona, GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor (opens in new tab). He says that CBD is highly versatile and works well as an anti-inflammatory as it manages to suppress the body’s inflammatory response, this means that CBD can essentially work to alleviate sunburn better than your standard, shop-bought aftersun.
“Inflammation is the body’s immune system responding to sunburn and can often be painful and if the burn is really bad from overexposure to the sun this also causes sunstroke,” he says.
“CBD is a highly effective remedy when it comes to treating heatstroke, sunstroke or heat exhaustion. When CBD enters our body, it can help relieve any pain or bodily issues, and should help to stabilise and maintain our homeostasis.”
A topical CBD should, therefore, help to reduce any pain on the actual area of the burn as well as prevent infections. I recommended PureSport’s topical CBD moisturiser (opens in new tab), which is not only infused with 100mg of cannabidiol but boasts a bonus Vitamin B5 ingredient to help keep skin soft and protected from irritation.
6. Fight fine Lines and wrinkles with a face serum
The damaging sun rays during a heatwave can impact the skin’s texture and smoothness by speeding up the ageing process. Fine lines start to appear prematurely and steal away the youthful appearance of your skin. A good quality face serum can help combat fine lines and wrinkles caused by sun damage and slow down the ageing process.
Oio’s Pro-Repair Anti-Blue Light Facial Serum (opens in new tab) is a good shout here. It protects and repairs the skin from the negative impact of electromagnetic smog and urban pollution and touts some clinically proven abilities such as reducing skin damage induced by the adverse effects of artificial blue light (HEV), natural sunlight (UV) and infrared radiation (IR) exposure.
This is thanks to ingredients such as horehound stem cells extract and copper tripeptide, which moisturise and support the regeneration processes to help visually reduce wrinkles and any damage caused by the sun.