Suns out, bums out! Summer’s here and if you’re anything like me, you’re a sun worshiper, and take any opportunity to have that beachy, sun-kissed glow! However, there’s a fine line between a healthy glow and too much sun. When we get excited and overdo it on a sunny day, not only can we spur on early ageing (hello wrinkles), but we can damage our skin in such a way that leaves it looking tired, dull, and dehydrated. So this year, I’m preaching sun safety, and sharing my tried and true effective tips for a healthy summer glow.

Admittedly, I am a reformed fake tanner. In high school, I spent more time at the tanning salon than doing my homework. Not only did I just feel like I looked healthier with a tan, but I also had out of control chest and back acne, and I found that the tanning beds helped calm down my spots. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m starting to see the effects of my early tanning days on my skin. As more and more wrinkles pop up on my face, I can’t help but wonder how many are due to my tanning bed obsession when I was 17.

Today I still love a good sunbaking session. But I’ve learned the hard way how too much sun can ruin a good time or an entire holiday. Maybe I’m getting wiser in my old age, or maybe I’ve just learned some things on my skin-healing journey that I simply can’t unlearn. Either way, these are my tried and true, effective tips for a healthy summer glow:

1) Wear Sunscreen

We all know this. It’s been hammered into us since we were little, but somehow even when we know better it’s easy to forget to slop on the screen before heading outside. Experts recommend that even if it’s overcast, it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen under your makeup.

But why is wearing sunscreen important? Not only is an estimated 90% of the signs of ageing caused by sun damage, but every year more people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. [1

Sunscreen is a unique product. We’re told to apply it generously and frequently to large areas of our bodies, increasing the likelihood of its ingredients entering our bloodstream through absorption by the skin, or inhalation by the lungs (if you use spray sunscreen). In fact, many sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the body and can be measured in blood, breast milk and urine samples.

According to the Environmental Working Group, “Laboratory studies indicate that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones, and physicians report sunscreen-related skin allergies…” [2]

So how the heck do you know what sunscreen is safe for your hormones and acne-prone skin? The’s sunscreen guide is my go-to resource. They use science-backed data to rank the safety of ingredients in sunscreens, and then give products an overall rating. Based on their recommendations, this year I’m using Beautycounter’s Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF30.

2) Eat Your Sunscreen

No, I don’t mean slamming back a shot of your lotion. But there are certain foods that provide nutrients and antioxidants that can help protect your skin from the inside out! The beautiful thing is that these foods are typically in season throughout the summer months!

One of the main antioxidants you’re going to want to gobble up is lycopene. Lycopene has been shown to enhance the skin’s natural defence against free radicals by 35% [3].

Tomatoes are often the first food that comes to mind when considering lycopene, but this antioxidant can be found in high amounts in these tasty fruits & veg as well:

  • Papaya
  • Asparagus
  • Watermelon
  • Red Cabbage
  • Grapefruit
  • Mango
  • Guava
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes (cooking the tomatoes makes the lycopene more bioavailable)

Not sure how to incorporate these foods into your diet? Because lycopene in tomatoes becomes more bioavailable when it’s cooked, try keeping tomato paste on hand to add to soups, stir-fries and sauces. Not only will you get the added benefit of this awesome phytonutrient, but the tomato paste also adds a wonderful umami taste with a hint of acid to your dishes, which can elevate the overall flavour!

Watermelon is also believed to have 40% more lycopene than tomatoes. So if you were needing an extra excuse to indulge in some cold, refreshing watermelon on a hot summer day, you’re welcome.

3) Exfoliate

It is generally a good idea to exfoliate regularly any time of the year, but during the summer months, gently exfoliating 2-3 times per week can really help your sun-kissed skin glow. Exfoliating your skin not only helps remove dry and dead skin cells from your skin surface, but it can also help stimulate blood flow. Increased blood flow will assist in delivering nourishing nutrients to the skin, which are carried in the blood.

The key to proper exfoliation is to be gentle. There are many facial scrubs out there that are full of abrasive particles to assist in sloughing off dead skin, however, frequent use of these products over time can actually start to thicken the skin. Plus, if you have active breakouts or broken skin, you need to be extra careful so that you don’t aggravate these spots further.

My top two recommendations for a gentle exfoliation are:

  1. Use a Konjac sponge. These things are so freaking cool. Konjac sponges are actually a Japanese root vegetable that is hard when dry, but when saturated with water provide a soft, gentle exfoliating surface that feels lovely on the face. Also, extra eco-bonus points to the Konjac sponge for being compostable!
  2. Try a facial peel. Peels are often done at the dermatologists’ office, however, there are products that allow you to do peels in the comfort of your home. I personally LOVE the Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel. It’s a no-peel-peel, in the sense that it’s a leave-on treatment. I simply use it at night instead of a serum, let it absorb before adding my night cream over top. Then while I sleep, the 15 botanically-derived acids go to work to slough off dead skin cells. In the morning, I wash my face as per usual and my skin feels so smooth and looks glowy. It truly feels like I got a facial while I was in bed. If you have any dark spots or pigmentation from acne scarring, this might be the peel for you too. I’ve been using it regularly and watching it fade these dark spots I have on my brow and cheek from two recent breakouts. It’s like magic in a bottle!

4) Hydrate

Consider this your daily reminder to drink more water!

We all know we need to be drinking water every day, but in the summer months, when the temps soar, our need for water can also increase. Yet it can be so easy to forget! (You are human after all!)

I go into a TON of detail about the benefits of proper hydration for your skin in this post here.

5) Be Friends with Vitamin C

Another nutrient that can help you glow from the inside and outside – vitamin C! Vitamin C not only supports your immune system, but it is also a potent antioxidant that can help protect your skin against sun damage. Vitamin C is also an important nutrient in the formation and repair of collagen, which rejuvenates the skin from the roots, reduces wrinkles, as well as other signs of ageing.

You can choose to eat your vitamin C by including citrus fruits like lemons and oranges in your diet. Or, you can use vitamin C topically in specially formulated products, such as face oils and serums. When used topically, vitamin C can help brighten dark spots and pigmentation, leading to a younger and smoother looking appearance.

I personally love the Beautycounter +1 Brightening Facial Oil, which I use after cleansing under my moisturizer and sunscreen.

6) Fake it ‘til you make it with Bronzer

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burnt myself at the beginning of the summer. Every year like clockwork, winter breaks, we get a warm sunny day, and I haul my ass into the sun in an attempt to start my summer tan. Without fail I end up burning and avoiding the sun for weeks while my skin heals, only to delay any real development of my summer glow.

By now I’ve learned my lesson, and I’ve come to realize that if you want a tan, then the safest and most effective way to get one is to build it gradually. Use sunscreen, and slowly over time, you will safely build some colour. In the meantime, you can still achieve that sun-kissed look with the use of bronzer!

I am by no means a makeup expert, so I can’t say definitively the correct methods for applying bronzer, but I can share with you my personal approach that works for me. The main thing to keep in mind is to start with less and build. Add a little to a blush brush, and lightly apply it to the highest parts of your face that are naturally kissed by the sun – your cheekbones, above your brow, down your nose and on your chin. And then blend, blend, blend! Note, this is different from contouring, where you would add bronzer to areas of your face to create a sense of shadow.

This is the summer to take a holistic approach to build and maintaining your summer glow! I’d love to hear your favourite ways to stay sun and skin-safe this summer, so hit me up in the comments below.