While visions of fun in the sun, bronzed skin, beach hair and bathing suits may go through your head when you think of summer, it’s important to enjoy your sun exposure responsibly. Time in the great outdoors is a quintessential part of summer, but sun exposure also speeds the aging process and brings the dangers of skin cancer, so taking preventative measures to care for your skin will help keep it in the best possible condition for your greatest skin-baring season yet.
Wrinkles and Sun Damage
In addition to causing signs of aging such as sunspots (age spots), uneven pigmentation and freckles, the sun causes an incredible 90% of wrinkles. While it is obvious that tanning and sunbathing are practices that will harm the skin, two-thirds of all sun damage is actually incidental and occurs while conducting daily tasks like driving or walking the dog. With that being said, sunscreen should be applied every single day, even without a trip to the beach or pool. Look for moisturizes and body lotions containing SPF and protect your face with a higher SPF.
Here are some further tips on how to protect yourself:
- Always apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every couple of hours (or more often if needed).
- Before leaving home, it is smart to apply SPF to your body completely nude as most bathing suits don’t offer much protection, plus it helps you avoid any weird burns on areas that might otherwise be forgotten.
- Make sure any sunscreen you use protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.
- If possible, try to avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
- Don’t forget to protect your eyes (creams with SPF, sunglasses), lips (lip balms with SPF), hands and feet (creams with SPF) and scalp (spray sunscreen works great).
- If you still want a glow, try a spray tan or one of the countless at-home sunless tanners on the market that are easier to use than ever before.
- Depending on your skin type, exfoliate 1-3 times a week to slough off any previous sun damage and dead skin, which will renew your skin to look brighter and feel softer.
- Wear protective lightweight cotton clothing and cover-ups and don’t forget a hat to shield your scalp and face from the sun.
If you have been overexposed to the sun, whether by forgetting your sunscreen, not using enough for proper coverage or losing track of time and not reapplying, you need to act as soon as you notice you’ve been burned. The damage has been done, so vow to learn from your burn and be more vigilant about protecting yourself in the future. In the meantime, these tips should help your heal faster:
- Cool down ASAP! Whether you briefly jump in a pool or ocean, take a cool bath or shower, or apply a cold, damp towel to your skin, you should feel some immediate relief as long as you gently pat skin dry and get out of the sun.
- Apply a moisturizer to damp skin to help trap the water in your skin and keep it hydrated. Top choices contain soothing aloe vera or soy.
- Taking an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen can help reduce swelling, redness and discomfort for severe sunburn.
- Slather on some plain yogurt, which contains calming, soothing lactic acid. Let it sit for 30 minutes prior to a cool shower, then pat dry.
- Burns are dehydrating, so up your normal intake of water and add sports drinks which replenish electrolytes.
- See a doctor if you have severe blisters, experience fever or chills, or feel woozy or disoriented. Also, don’t scratch or pop blisters to avoid infection.