How to Protect Your Skin in Phoenix's Hot, Dry Climate

Person with a parasol walking past digital thermometer reading 122 degrees Fahrenheit
Ralph Freso / Getty Images

There are many locations in the United States that can be hard on your skin, from the extreme cold in Alaska and northern states to the wind in Texas, as well as those cities with water that’s too hard or too soft. Skin also takes a beating in Arizona, which has the two sunniest cities in the country: Yuma and Phoenix.

Desert Heat

Before traveling to dry climates like Phoenix, there are a few things you’ll want to know about skincare to avoid sun damage, burns, and the “desert dry out.” Not only is Phoenix hot—the average high temperatures can tip 106 degrees from May through September—it’s a dry heat. Plus, Phoenix stays warm into the evening. Short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts/tops and shorts are common all day and the extra exposure is likely to leave you with dry, dull and flaky skin on your arms and legs. Even cooler winter months are dry.

Protect Yourself From the Inside, Out

Certain foods can help protect the skin from the dangerous effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. For example, blueberries contain flavonoids called anthocyanidins which protect cells from UV damage.

Red-colored fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries, and cherries contain compounds that assist in combating the onset of skin cancers and may help stimulate the skin’s ability to repair and rebuild itself naturally.

Healthy fats from salmon and flax seeds contain Omega-3s, helping skin cells maintain strength and elasticity while providing a protective layer for your skin.

Staying hydrated is necessary for maintaining healthy and a more radiant complexion. Water flushes toxins out and provides a moist environment for ear, nose, throat and skin tissues. Drink at least eight cups per day.

Coconut water acts on the connective tissue in your skin to keep its youthful elasticity, eliminating dry skin and age-related wrinkling. Green tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect against ultraviolet radiation damage.

Dry Weather Survival Kit

  1. Summer Moisturizer: Avoid thick, heavy creams and choose a lightweight, hydrating lotion. Some brands contain extra boosts of vitamin C and soy to enhance the skin’s summer glow.
  2. Natural Oils: Try using extra virgin olive oil as an all-over hydrator. Warm a few drops of oil in your hand before smoothing over your face for ultra-moisturized skin or add a few drops to your shampoo. Coconut oil supports new skin formation and acts as a protective barrier against burning. Also, essential oils like argan, lavender, and rose contain a natural SPF of 6 to 8. Just add a few drops to your body moisturizer for some extra protection against the sun.
  3. Face Towelettes: When traveling to the desert pack alcohol-free face towelettes for a quick cleanse on-the-go that won’t dry out your skin. These wipes are perfect for removing makeup and some of the natural varieties contain chamomile, cucumber and vitamin E. Your skin will feel refreshed.
  4. Lip balm: Choose natural balms that moisturize and hydrate lips, and are free from mineral and petroleum oils. Coconut butter, beeswax, and extra virgin olive oil naturally seal in moisture and help hydrate lips. Deliver soothing relief to lips with ingredients such as lemon balm, tea tree oil, and peppermint.
  5. Exfoliate: Break through dead skin cells and keep your skin looking fresh by exfoliating your face, hands, body, and feet. Use natural scrubs that contain anti-aging ingredients like vitamin C and E, moisturizers such as lavender and argan oil, and exfoliates like sea salt, brown sugar, and almonds.

Sunscreen Protection

Skin damage occurs fastest from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when UV radiation levels are the highest. Keep this in mind when golfing, swimming, hiking and even dining outdoors. Apply two tablespoons of sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and repeat every two hours or after toweling or excessive sweating.

Treating Sunburn

Turn to the desert’s skin-aid, aloe vera. Aloe vera can soothe blistered, sunburned skin, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, and it supports skin cell regeneration. Aloe vera also contains active compounds that can decrease pain and are cooling to skin due to high water content.

Products with ingredients like sunflower, aloe vera, shea butter, and zinc can nourish and protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Sprouts Farmers Market, nationally headquartered in Phoenix, carries a wide variety of natural sunscreens, essential oils, and healthy foods to provide powerful protection without harmful chemicals.

Janet Little, a certified nutritionist, has worked in the health food industry for more than 20 years and teaches webinars on natural and organic foods and nutrition.