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When we think of the sun we tend to envision the sun-kissed, beach bronzed, crinkly haired California dreaming types that are over TV these days. It’s a romantic notion but the truth is that you need to enjoy the sun responsibly if you want to stay healthy. Time in the great outdoors is a quintessential part of any summer vacation, though, and we’d never tell you to stay indoors; taking preventative measures to care for your skin is the best way to avoid the aging and damaging effects of the sun without sacrificing any fun. If you’re not convinced, here are some of the effects of excessive sunshine and, in particular, sunburn.
Wrinkles and Sun Damage
As well as increasing and accelerating the aging process of the skin, and causing the appearance of things like age spots and uneven pigmentation, the sun can cause the emergence of freckles and is responsible for a remarkable 90% of wrinkles! It is pretty obvious that excessive sun-tanning will harm the skin, but did you know that most sun damage is incidental, such as while driving you car, walking to the store? This is why you should apply sunscreen as a part of your daily routine. To make it easier, look for body lotions, hand creams, moisturisers or even foundations which have SPF and UV protection built into their formulae. Remember to put a higher SPF on your face and neck.
One of the dilemmas we face when choosing sun protection is which products to use, particularly on the delicate face area. Those of us who have acne prone skin will want to avoid putting thick greasy creams on our face in favor of gel based protection and mineral based sunscreens. Perhaps the best option is to choose a moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type which contains UVA and UVB protection. Just remember to keep applying regularly.
Here are some further tips on how to protect your skin this summer:
- Be sure to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out into the sun and reapply every two hours (or more as needed).
- Before leaving home apply SPF to your full body so that you don’t miss any areas while trying to be discreet.
- Make sure any sunscreen you buy offers both UVA and UVB protection, preferably factor 30 or higher.
- Avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm when possible.
- Don’t forget to protect your eyes, lips, hands and feet, and scalp with the appropriate creams and sprays.
- To get that glow you’re after, try a spray tan instead, or one of the countless home tanning kits that are available.
- Depending on what type of skin you have, you should exfoliate twice a week or so to slough off dead skin and sun damage. This will renew your skin and make it look brighter, and feel softer.
- When it’s really hot be sure to wear lightweight cotton clothing and cover-ups as well as a hat to shield your face and scalp.
Recovery Tricks for Sun Exposure
If you accidentally expose yourself to too much sun and the damage that comes along with it, then you need to act quickly! The damage has already been done, though, so first and foremost you must figure out how it happened (did you forget to apply sunscreen, or lose track of time and mistime reapplication?) and make sure it does not happen again. In the meantime, though, these tips will help you to heal well:
- Cool your skin down ASAP just as you would any burn. Take a cool bath or shower, or even just press a cool damp towel to the affected area. This should offer some immediate relief.
- Moisturise the damaged skin to trap moisture and keep the skin hydrated; aloe vera and soy are good choices.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen can help to reduce redness, discomfort and swelling.
- Slap on a layer of plain yogurt as this has calming lactic acid in it. Let this sit for 30 minutes prior to a cool shower and pat dry.
- Up your normal water intake to compensate for the dehydrating effect that burns have. You can also try sports drinks which have electrolytes.
- If you have severe blistering, fever, chills or feel disorientated see a doctor. Children with burns that cause blisters should see a doctor straightaway. DO NOT pick, pop or scratch blisters.