After a seemingly endless winter and a rainy spring, finally summer has finally arrived. For most of us summer conjures up feelings of warmth and relaxation and carefree vacation time spent at the beach or in some far off exotic destination. The sun is essential to our survival and brings a great deal health benefits, such as influencing the level of vitamin D in our body, the regulation of feel-good hormones which contribute to regulating our mood.
However, did you know that 90 percent of visible skin aging is caused by UV radiation ? Most people have no idea how much the sun affects the appearance of their skin, even if they are not tanning or getting sunburnt. Unfortunately many young people think they are invincible and that they don’t need to worry about sun protection. For them, the desire to look tanned is more important than the concern of developing skin pigmentation or skin cancer. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many seniors play down the need for a daily sun protection reasoning that the “damage has already been done”.
But the truth is that sun damage is cumulative. Whether you’re 16 or 60, without sun protection, you’re leaving your skin exposed to the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. This is why skin specialists recommend that all people, regardless of age, practice sun-safe behaviors.
Here are 10 useful tips to help you to protect your skin during the summer season.
- First most obvious advice is to avoid direct exposure to the sun rays between 12 noon and 4:00 pm during the day, when the harmful effects of the sun are at their strongest.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with a minimum of SPF of 15 for every day protection. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating
- Don’t forget about spots like the top of your ears or the back of your neck, which are common places for pigmentation spots and cancers. It’s especially important to liberally apply sunscreen to the face, since the skin is thinner, and often highly exposed to UV rays.
- Watch out for exposure to Indirect or diffuse UV light, radiation that has been scattered by the clouds on a cloudy day and other elements in the atmosphere, and/or bounced back from UV-reflective surfaces. Sand for example reflects an extra 15 percent of UV light, and water, up to 10 percent. In fact, a large percentage of the UV light we receive even while sitting under the shade of a tree or an umbrella is indirect.
- Clothing is the single most effective form of sun protection. It is our first line of defense against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. As a rule of thumb the more skin you cover, the better. Tightly woven or closely knitted fabrics, synthetic and semi-synthetic fibers (such as polyester and rayon) offer the greatest sun protection. The darker the colour clothing the better the protection. Hats with a brim that extends three inches or more all the way around to shade the face, neck, ears, and even the top of the shoulders give best protection. Look for sunglasses that cover the eyes, eyelids, and as much of the surrounding areas as possible. They should come with a tag verifying that they block 99-100 percent of all UV radiation.
- Caution when travelling in Planes, Trains and Automobiles ; while glass blocks UVB rays pretty well, it doesn’t block UVA rays. Windshields are treated to shield drivers from some UVA, but passenger windows usually are not. Consider installing transparent UV-blocking window film in your car for long-term peace of mind.
- Be aware of photo sensitivity whereby an inflammation of the skin is induced by the combination of sunlight and certain medications or substances. Symptoms can include redness of the skin which may look similar to sunburn. Common photo sensitizing medications include certain antibiotics, malaria drugs, diabetic drugs to name but a few. Read the warning instructions of your medications. Extra precaution should be taken if under any medication which carries a photosensitivity warning and immediate medical consultation is advised in the case of any unwanted skin reaction.
- For those of you undergoing skin treatments to target pigmentation, it is safer and more effective to apply skin lightening creams or creams containing AHA in the evening or at night when the melanocytes, the pigment producing cells, are not being stimulated by the sun, this will ensure better results.
- Performed regularly, a self-skin examination can alert you to changes in your skin and aid in the early detection of skin cancer. It should be done often enough to become a habit, but not so often as to feel like a chore. For most people, once a month is ideal. Consult your dermatologist regularly for a professional skin examination. This also applies to dark skin tones. Contrary to common belief anyone of any race, ethnicity or skin color can develop serious skin pigmentation disorders or skin cancer. We recommend a field therapy to treat a larger area with topical medications such a chemical peel.It’s much better to be preventive and stay on top of it.
In conclusion we believe that natural, glowing, healthy skin is the look that makes everyone look their best. When you tan, indoors or out, you increase signs of aging as well as your risk of developing skin cancer. To protect and enhance your skin’s natural radiance, allow your skin to fade back to the same natural color as on parts of your body that have had little or no exposure to the sun such as the inside of your arms. This is your own personal, beautiful, natural glowing skin tone. Then as part of a healthy lifestyle the combination of regular exercise a healthy diet and regular skin treatments with a dermatologist to keep pigmentation at bay, will help maintain a radiant skin glow over the years. It’s never too late to adopt your new healthy skin resolutions, the first easy step to get you going is sun protection, on a daily basis, which will immediately contribute to reversing sun damage and protect against premature skin-aging and damage.
Video made by Thomas Leveritt.