Beyond the Basics: Sun Safety for Summer
Summer is just around the corner. With each warmer day, we are dreaming about time at the beach, long walks outside and picnics. But all that fun in the sun can definitely take a toll on our skin, leading to unsightly wrinkles, age spots and, potentially, skin cancer.
We all know the basics – wear your sunscreen and reapply every couple of hours. However, this is really just the beginning. There are additional steps we all need to take to ensure that our largest organ – our skin – is well taken care of and stays as healthy as possible. As a medical dermatologist, I’m constantly asked about the best way to enjoy time outside without taxing our skin too much. Below are the tips I give my patients, my family and friends and practice myself. Let me know how these work out for you!
- Staying hydrated means more than just drinking enough water; try using a cool water mister to rehydrate (bonus tip – water misters are fantastic to carry along on airplanes, hotels or anywhere else where the air is dry – goodbye parched looking skin!)
- Are you a former sunbather? Vitamin C is an antioxidant that prevents free radicals in skin cells which contributes to aging; try using a good topical cream with Vitamin C to help combat those signs! We have several options available in our online store.
- It’s not just your waistline that loves fruits and veggies – your skin will benefit as well! These provide antioxidants and vitamins that will replenish your skin and help it glow.
- Hats are not just for winter! Choose a sunhat with a 2-3 inch brim all the way around and you will reduce your head and neck exposure by as much as 70%. Baseball hats don’t provide this level of protection. Worried about staying stylish? Thought so. I love this company, Coolibar, that makes sun-proof hats and clothing that are also fashionable.
- Sunscreen. You might not be using enough, or the right kind, or at the right times! Remember these tips:
- If you are prone to breakouts, find one that is oil-free
- SPF 30 or higher, always
- Apply a golf-ball size amount to the whole body and apply two layers to the neck and face
- Keep some sunscreen in your car – you should make sure to wear sunscreen even when you’re driving
- Don’t forget to put sunscreen on the tips of your ears, lips, and in the part of your hair
- Metal based sunscreens offer the most protection (look for the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium oxide). They might appear pasty (it’s still better than wrinkles!) and there are some newer sheer formulations available, so check those out also.
- Always wear sunglasses, and opt for a pair that blocks 99% of UV rays; they are not only good to protect the skin around your sensitive eye area, they might reduce your risk of cataracts.
- Choose a spray tan over a tanning booth. The most common ingredient in sunless tans is dihydroxyacetone (we’ll call it DHA for short!). DHA is a colorless chemical that interacts with the amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown color change. Since these dead skin cells are constantly being shed, the color change produced by DHA usually lasts about five to seven days. Spray tans do NOT protect you against the suns harmful rays, contrary to what some may think!
- Wear light colored clothing to reflect the sun and help keep you cool. An extra benefit to this is that mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors! Save the perfumes and fragrance for another time and the bugs might leave you alone all together.
- Last but not least – if you do get a sunburn (ouch!), try these tips to offer some relief:
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen can help calm down the inflammation
- Apply refrigerated aloe vera to the affected areas
- Dip a wash cloth in skim milk for a cool milk compress
This is what sun can do to your skin! This person was repeatedly exposed to
sunlight from behind a window on just one side of their face – check out
the undeniable and dramatic difference!