Summer is on the horizon, bringing with it some hotter days, longer daylight hours, and better conditions for enjoying the outdoors. As we pack away our jackets and reach instead for the short sleeves, now is the time many of us start thinking about our ‘summer bodies’ – physical goals we work towards so we’re ready to hit the beach on 1 December.

So, how can you get your skin summer ready? Here are our top six tips for prepping your skin for the summer season.

1. Skip the tan. There is nothing healthy about a tan; in fact, tanning is a sign of skin cells in trauma. After a few short minutes of unprotected sun exposure, your skin cells become irreparably damaged and try to prevent further injury by producing melanin (the pigment that gives skin its colour). This results in darkened skin, which we call a tan.

But a tan equals significant genetic skin cell damage which leads to a heightened risk of skin cancer and premature signs of ageing such as wrinkles, fine lines, and patchy pigmentation. If you want a healthy glow to your skin, use a tinted moisturiser or get a spray tan, but avoid UV-induced tans.

2. Wear sunscreen. Technically you should never have stopped wearing sunscreen, even in winter. The UV rays emitted by the sun in Australia are strong enough to damage our skin all year-round and we should wear sunscreen whenever we go outside. This is especially important during spring and summer, when UV levels frequently rise above 3 – the minimum level required to damage skin. Regular sunscreen use helps prevent sun burn, skin cancer and premature ageing such as wrinkles and sagging skin.

Are you applying sunscreen correctly? Learn more with this handy sunscreen guide!

3. Get sleep. Nothing looks better for your skin than a good night’s rest! But with Daylight Savings coming into effect in many Australian states at this time of year, many of us experience out of the ordinary sleeping patterns – struggling to fall asleep and then wishing for a few more hours of shut-eye in the mornings. Try to regulate your sleep pattern and get 7-9 hours of good quality rest every night, which will help rejuvenate your face and brighten your skin.

4. Drink more H2O. In winter, we can forget to stay hydrated when we’re cold, but as summer ticks closer we need to ramp up the fluids! Water helps the skin to thrive, encouraging brighter, softer, plumper, and clearer skin. Two litres of water is the minimum recommended for the average person, but you’ll need more if you’re exercising, sweating, or spending time in the sun.

5. Protect your skin from the sun. We already covered this with the sunscreen tip, right? Not exactly. While sunscreen is the key ingredient in protecting your skin from harmful UV radiation, there are other methods we need to put into action.

Keep by the door (or in your car) a hat, sunglasses, and extra sunscreen, and put them on every time you go out. Stick to the shade wherever possible – like walking on the shady side of the street and using your car’s sun visor to block the sun through the driver’s window – and avoid going out during the middle of the day when UV rays are strongest. Being sun burnt is not a great way to spend your summer and your skin will suffer both now and in the future.

6. Get a skin cancer check. Move this to the top of your to-do list! The weeks leading up to the start of summer are an ideal time to get your annual skin cancer check. Why? Because during your skin check, your doctor is looking for tiny cell changes that indicate cancer. During summer, skin typically darkens a little bit (because we’re not covering it up as much) which can “mask” these symptoms. So, getting your skin check before summer makes it a little easier for your doctor to detect those important changes, thereby finding skin cancer earlier and giving you a better chance of successful treatment.

What happens if there is a delay in skin cancer detection and treatment? Well, you could suffer significant scarring, physical disfigurement, or even death. So move that skin cancer check up your to-do list and consider it an important part of prepping your skin for summer – and maintaining your skin health for years to come.