Glowing Skin for Summer

Tips for a healthier, more radiant and resilient complexion.
Keep your skin hydrated this summer with Dr. Stephenson’s Triple Oil Treatment. Photography: Bob & Dawn Davis

By Dr. Stacie Stephenson

Summer can be extra hard on skin. Sun, heat, sweat, wind, sand, salt, pollen and the ravages of seasonal junk food can cause skin inflammation, chapping, acne, blotchiness, greasiness, and an increase in fine lines and wrinkles. When your skin doesn’t feel good or reflect your inner vibrancy, you may not feel like your best, most confident self. 

If you don’t already have a skin care regimen in place, or if you want to naturalize your skin care game this summer, I’ve got some great tips for increasing skin health, tone and resilience. Try one or two or all of these skin care strategies this summer, and I think you’re going to like what you see in the mirror.

The Triple Oil Treatment
In my book Vibrant: A Groundbreaking Program to Get Energized, Own Your Health, and Glow, one of my most popular tips is the Triple Oil Treatment. Dry skin can be caused by lack of hydration, but it can also be caused by a depletion of healthful fats, both internally and externally. The Triple Oil Treatment enriches your skin (and the rest of you) in three ways:

Supplement with omega-3 fatty acids: Whether you choose a fish oil or algae oil supplement, marine oils contain the all-important omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are most prevalent in cold-water fish (and the algae they eat), and they are good for your heart, brain and certainly, your skin. Their potent anti-inflammatory and antitumor action can help the body resolve inflammatory skin diseases like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, as well as possibly prevent nonmelanoma skin cancer, and promote wound healing. One study showed that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements helps to inhibit the enzyme that degrades telomeres—DNA segments that shorten with age—and reduce oxidative stress in ways that might slow biological aging. Several studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids also influence skin health directly, including one study that showed improvements to skin quality in middle-aged women taking a cocktail of fish oil along with soy isoflavones, lycopene, vitamin C and vitamin E. I’ll tell you more about some of these other ingredients later in this article. 

Eat fatty fish and olive oil: While omega-3 fatty acid supplements are important, I also recommend eating your omega-3s by including cold-water fatty fish in your diet at least twice a week, as well as replacing butter and other more processed fats with olive oil. Multiple studies have highlighted the skin benefits of both increased fish and olive oil consumption, including one study showing virgin olive oil targeting the hallmarks of aging. Olive oil appears to reduce telomere degradation (as omega-3 fatty acids do), as well as protect against oxidative stress, increasing the body’s ability to get rid of damaged cells, improving blood sugar control, and protecting from many other complex aging pathways. A recent French study also showed that a diet rich in olive oil can prevent severe facial aging from sun exposure. 

Use topical coconut oil: The third part of the Triple Oil Treatment loops in coconut oil, not to eat (it is one of the few plant foods very high in saturated fat), but for topical use. Coconut oil is a rich emollient, or skin softener, so it is great for very dry skin, especially on elbows, hands, knees and feet, but also on dry facial skin (test a small area first to make sure it doesn’t irritate your face). Studies show that coconut oil is an effective natural emollient with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It can help to soothe dermatitis and other inflammatory skin conditions as well as—or in some cases, better than—prescription skin care products, at a far less expensive price point. I always keep a jar of refined coconut oil with my other personal care products. 

For optimal skin health, prioritize movement and outdoor time. Photography: Bob & Dawn Davis

Vitamin C: Skin and Health Resilience

This old favorite never ceases to amaze me. Add better skin health and resilience to the list of vitamin C’s many benefits, which include reduction in wrinkles, increased moisture retention, stronger defense against sun and chemicals, better wound healing, and greater collagen and elastin synthesis for tighter, smoother skin. Get glowing through increased dietary sources of vitamin C (like citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries) and the external application of vitamin C serum. 

Lycopene’s Anti-Aging Properties 

This carotenoid has been shown to reduce signs of skin aging, including the loss of elasticity, increased dryness, wrinkles, rough texture, and laxity. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties also help to prevent DNA damage, telomere shortening, premature cell death, and may even help to reduce the risk of, and complications related to, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Many vegetables and fruits are good sources of lycopene, especially red ones such as tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit. Concentrated tomato products (including tomato sauce and paste) also may help protect against UV-induced sunburn. It’s absolutely no excuse to ignore your sunscreen, but a diet rich in tomato products could add a additional layer of sun protection. 

Soothing Seaweed

Another popular skin hack in my book Vibrant is my favorite DIY green tea mask to reduce redness and inflammation. All you need is a sheet or two of nori (the seaweed used to wrap up sushi rolls) and a pot of brewed and cooled green tea. Immerse nori sheets in green tea and then apply them to your face. Lie back and relax. This treatment helps relieve sunburn as well as detoxify your skin from pollution exposure. 

Turmeric Spot Treatment

Find that jar of ground turmeric in your spice cabinet, then mix ¼ teaspoon with a few drops of water to make a paste, and apply to acne spots and other inflamed areas. Leave the paste on for about 10 minutes, then gently dab off. Turmeric may leave an orange residue, so wash with a gentle cleanser.

Healthy, glowing skin is an indicator of internal health, so don’t ignore your skin this summer. Instead, treat it with TLC. Get plenty of time outdoors (with a mineral-based sunscreen for protection), keep your body moving to increase your circulation and eat lots of vegetables. Along with the Triple Oil Treatment and the occasional seaweed mask or turmeric spot treatment, you’ll coax out your skin’s healthiest glow, and you’re sure to feel more energetic and more vibrant.