Summer is all about sweating in the sun or staying indoors in air-conditioning, both of which can be very drying.

Sweating cools the body and keeps its core temperature constant. Sweat is a mixture of water and salts, and the water evaporates leaving behind the salt, which forms a sticky layer on the skin’s surface. This prompts us to wash our face repeatedly, which also washes off the skin’s natural oils and leads to dryness.

Spending eight to 10 hours in an air-conditioned environment also decreases skin hydration.

Moisturising is key

Moisturizers are designed to improve the texture, feel and appearance of skin by increasing its water content. It’s not a good idea to slather on greasy lotions and thick creams, so opt for oil-free moisturizers. By the rule of the thumb, face lotions tend to have a lighter base and body lotions have a thickness base.

If required, you can use a face lotion on your body but do not use a body lotion on your face as it will clog the skin’s pores.

Exfoliate regularly

To maximize the penetration of lotions, exfoliate your skin after bathing at least once a week. This will help remove the dead cells from the top layer of your skin and allow skin-care ingredients to penetrate and soften it. You must moisturise after exfoliation to boost your skin’s water content.

Wheat bran is the best natural exfoliate. Soak it in water for 10 minutes and use it to exfoliate the body and face once a week. If you prefer commercially-available ones, look for soft exfoliates made with seed extracts.

Hydrating menu

Drink at least 10 glasses of water a day to hydrate the skin, irrespective of your thirst levels. You can substitute water with iced herbal tea, non-caffeinated fluids such as coconut water, lassi, buttermilk, jal jeera, aam panna, etc.

Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee and colas as they can increase fluid loss.

Foods that contain mostly water as hydrating for your skin as your body. Eat water-dense fruits and veggies such as cucumber, watermelon, musk melon, celery, and lettuce through the day.

Dr Shehla Agarwal is a consultant dermatologist and director, Mehak Derma & Surgery Clinic, New Delhi