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Everything You Need to Know About Your Skin Before Your Inevitable Memorial Day Sunburn

So look, we know that you’re probably gonna burn the shit out of your skin over the weekend. Especially if you’re east of the Mississippi and Memorial Day serves as the first time you get to spend three straight days in the sun since Labor Day, or a misbegotten spring-break trip that was light on the suntan lotion.

Just be smart about it, okay?

Well, let me rephrase that, because the smartest thing to do is to stay inside — or cover every inch of your body in clothing and/or sunscreen — since there’s no such thing as a safe or smart way to tan. “A tan is basically your skin trying to protect itself from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays,” NYC-based dermatologist Anthony M. Rossi told us last Memorial Day. “These UV wavelengths cause DNA damage, so your cells produce pigment [i.e., they darken the color of the skin] to protect itself from further DNA damage.”

But preaching complete solar abstinence would make me a total hypocrite as I’m a proud Southern Californian who tries to maximize the amount of time I spend basking in the sun year ‘round. I can, though, recommend ways in which to do the best by your skin if you’re as committed of a Sun God as I am a Sun Goddess.

Don’t just take my word for it, either. I’ve also enlisted my go-to esthetician and “glow up” facial expert Andrea Amez, who’s here to help keep your skin healthy and safe both in and out of the Memorial Day rays.

Use the sunblock surfers use

“Our love of tanning has killed entire ecosystems,” says Amez. “We’ve formulated chemical sunscreens, like Coppertone, which most of us grew up with, to contain ingredients that not only disrupt your hormones, but that can destroy entire coral reefs. This is why Hawaii has finally banned chemical sunscreens. Instead, use a physical sunscreen made entirely of zinc oxide. It’s pastier in texture, but worth it in terms of its effect on our bodies and the ocean’s ecosystems. Plus, zinc is what surfers and most water-sport aficionados use anyway — so you know it’s effective. They’re one click away at Amazon.

Nourish your skin

“Your skin needs tons of internal hydration, especially if you’re drinking in the sun,” Amez explains. “In addition to water, foods like watermelon, cucumber, jicama and red bell help out with that internal hydration.”

Exfoliate — Every. Single. Day.

“It’s not that hard,” Amez promises. “Just buy a body glove at any health-food store or spa, and use it in the shower every day with face or body wash. Remember, your skin is an organ, and exfoliating is a way to let it breathe. Also, it’s key to exfoliate all of the areas you shave or wax to avoid ingrowns, which not only look gross, but can hurt and turn into boils you need a dermatologist to remove. Exfoliating is extra important for people with darker skin tones, because we tend to get a little more cell turnover near the neck, knees and elbows, which creates shadowy discoloration if not sloughed away regularly.”

Don’t forget your back in the shower

“Most of us show our backs off a little more during the summer — especially for guys who don’t wear a shirt while hanging outside — but it seems like we all forget to wash our back in the shower,” says Amez. “I see some clients with perfect facial skin but really congested, acne-prone backs.

“The back may seem inconvenient to wash, but it needs to be detoxed like the rest of your body, especially from all the shampoo and conditioner that tend to run down it when washing your hair. The back not only gets tons of sun exposure, it collects this product residue, so it’s important you get it scrubbed down at an affordable Korean spa or take turns with a friend or partner scrubbing yourselves down.”

Manscape wisely

“Don’t shave your body hair or get a wax the same day as going to the beach or a pool party, especially if a jacuzzi is going to be involved,” Amez warns. “Remove hair 24 hours beforehand, otherwise the water can cause ingrowns and invalidate all your efforts toward smoothness.” She recommends waiting at least twice that long before revealing your spray tan. Otherwise: “The weird piña colada is a dead giveaway.”

Let nature deal with your manly hooves

“Run in the sand for softer feet,” Amez suggests. “The beach offers the best exfoliation for the cheapest price.”