Why athletes shouldn't use charcoal soap, raw coconut oil as moisturizer, and more
In the summer, certain daily habits can unwittingly cause breakouts, split ends, sun damage, and more. Here, skin- and hair-care experts outline six surprising mistakes you might be making during the warmermonths and how to rectify them.
1. You’re applying face oil in the morning.
“Applying face oil in the daytime during summer can potentially increase your risk of sun damage," says Karyn Grossman, M.D., a dermatologist who divides her time between New York City and Los Angeles. "This is because oil attracts UV light and helps it penetrate the skin.”
The fix: Try it at night instead (many face oils come laced with ingredients that fight photo-damage). During the day, opt for a light moisturizer with ingredients that have antioxidant properties such as green tea and echinacea.
2. You’re not sheilding your hair from the elements.
Sun, sea, and wind weather hair, particularly hair that’s farthest from the scalp. “This is especially true if it’s color-treated or mid-to-shoulder length or longer,” says Johnathan Gale, a hair colorist at Cure Salon in Malibu, California. “We also shampoo more after being outdoors and the combination can cause you to lose elasticity at the ends.”
The fix: Work a bit of hair oil into your ends before each shampoo. Your scalp needs the real cleansing and the oil will help buffer the ends from any drying effects of the shampoo’s surfactants, says Gale. Just make sure the oil is silicone-free so it doesn’t remain on the hair.
3. You’re using raw coconut oil on your skin.
If you’ve grabbed a jar off the grocery store shelf and it’s solid at room temperature, using it on your skin isn't as good for you as you might think. Some of the long chain fatty acids in raw coconut oil (myristic, palmitic) aren’t so beneficial topically, says Sarah Villafranco, M.D., founder of Osmia Organics. “They can cause skin reactions, dryness, breakouts, and general congestion over time.”
The fix: Choose coconut oil that’s fractionated by steam not solvent (hexane, for instance). “Fractionating it breaks apart the fatty acids, so the skin can benefit from the medium chain fatty acids like caprylic and capric acid,” she says.
4. You’re cleansing with a charcoal soap.
Summer’s unique blend of sweat, sunscreen, and smog tends to leave a film on skin so this can seem like a good detoxifying choice. However, charcoal is not always well balanced with other ingredients in soap or a cleanser and it can strip natural oils and nutrients from the skin at this time of year, Villafranco notes.
The fix: Use soap made with black clay or dead sea mud. “Either is a better choice to remove that layer of grime and provide the gentle amount of exfoliation you need without leaving skin parched,” says Villafranco.
5. Your sheer tee isn’t protecting your skin.
Artful cutouts and transparency may look stylish but they’re problematic when the UV index is higher. “I see this all the time: patients think they’re protected in a sheer athletic shirt but they’re getting sunburned because the fabric is not fully blocking the sun’s rays,” says Grossman.
The fix: She recommends applying SPF 50 about 20 minutes before exposure and doing it before you pull on your top.
6. You don't leave time to air dry post-shower.
Body oil hydrates skin and gives it a glow, but if you’re toweling off and then smoothing it on you’re doing it wrong. “We’re used to doing that with body lotion but what people don’t realize is lotion comes with the moisture, or water content, built in. But body oil doesn't and thus needs added moisture,” explains Villafranco.
The fix: Rub the oil on straight out of the shower and you’ll see it creates an emulsion, she says. Leave it on for five minutes before toweling off and getting dressed so that it's fully absorbed, adds Villafranco.