We have a love-hate relationship with the sun. Do I want to come back from vacation with a beautifully bronzed body and be the envy of all my friends? Absolutely! But every dermatologist and beauty expert will agree on one thing - UV radiation is bad for your skin.
We all know that prolonged sun exposure can lead to premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. In fact, the color you get (including freckles) from sitting in the sun is actually your body’s response to UV damage. “One of the key stimulants for melanocyte production of tanning pigment is damaged DNA,” explains Dr. Kenneth Howe, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology. Excessive UV exposure can lead to the production of harmful enzymes in the skin that breaks down collagen and elastic fibers, leading to an increase in wrinkles and thinning skin. UV exposure can also promote the growth of blood vessels, meaning badly photo-damaged skin becomes mapped with veins.
Believe it or not, it only takes 15 minutes in the sun to damage our skin. This damage can stay with you from childhood into adult life. If you haven’t been protecting your skin, sun damage can start to show up in your 20s. So before you head out into the heat, here are a few tips to keep you and your skin healthy.
Sun Damage Prevention Tips
There are 2 types of Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA can pass through glass and cloud cover, allowing it to penetrate deep into the skin and lead to premature aging. UVB radiation has a shorter wavelength and causes surface damage such as sunburn. Both UVA and UVB are closely linked with the development of skin cancer and melanoma, so we need to protect against both.
Always Use Sunscreen
It’s important to use sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy. The SPF (sun protection factor) number indicates the sunscreen’s effectiveness in blocking out UV rays. Broad-spectrum sunscreens filter out both UVA and UVB radiation exposure. Water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF is the best place to start. Other sunscreens may protect you from sunburn, but not against skin cancer.
Apply a thick layer of sunscreen on all parts of exposed skin 15 to 30 minutes before going out - get a friend to help with hard-to-reach spots like your back! Top it up every couple of hours, and more often after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Sunscreen creams are better for dry skin, while gels are better for the scalp or hairy areas.
Don’t forget to check the expiration date! If there isn’t one, sunscreen tends to have a shelf life of no more than 3 years - shorter if it’s been exposed to high temperatures.
So what about cosmetics with UV protection? Some makeup and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. Check the SPF to see if they can be used on their own, otherwise, add a layer of sunscreen before you apply your makeup to make sure you’re fully protected.
Limit Your Sun Exposure
The sun is at its hottest between 10 am and 4 pm. Remember, if your shadow is shorter than you, find some shade! It’s also worthwhile to check the UV index on your weather app before going out. When the index is 10 or higher, it’s wise to avoid being outdoors as much as possible.
Be especially careful around reflective surfaces such as water, snow, and sand. These reflect the damaging rays of the sun and greatly increase the risk of you becoming a lobster. And stay away from the tanning beds! If you really want a golden glow in winter, opt for a spray tan instead.
Wear Protective Clothing
If you can’t avoid the sun during these peak hours, you can cover up with long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, or a parasol. Hot as it may be, dark clothing with tightly woven fabric blocks more sun than white or loosely woven fabrics. For additional protection, look for clothing made with special sun-protective materials, and make sure your sunglasses have 99% to 100% UV absorption.
Aftercare for Sun Damaged Skin
Ideally, we always follow all the rules above to a ‘T’ and avoid sun damage completely - yay! But, we know that’s not the case. Try as we might, we get too cocky on that first hot day of summer and go out, only to return home with angry patches of glowing pink skin. So what’s the best way to soothe it?
Aloe Vera for Sunburn Is Just What You Need
Aloe vera is a plant well known to all due to its healing and skin-calming properties. It is used in cosmetics on a regular basis, in addition to being the type of substance highly appreciated for its nutritional value and for the effects it has on our body as a regenerator. It’s also deliciously refreshing in drinks!
Aloe vera is usually used after sunbathing and after the skin has been exposed to the sun for too long. Sometimes, sunscreen just isn’t enough, and we still burn. Hydration is the best way to soothe our skin. Aloe vera hydrates the skin after exposure to the sun, in addition to calming it and returning it to its natural state.
Its regenerating and healing powers will help to end the radiating heat effect that occurs after overexposure to the sun. In less than twenty-four hours, the skin will return to normal, provided the burns aren’t too severe. Aloe vera will prevent blisters and peeling, helping to keep a more vivid color and stay healthy for much longer.
Greek Yoghurt Calms & Relaxes Your Skin
Greek yogurt as an after-sun ingredient may seem like an extravagance. It is not. The Greeks have been soothing their skin with it since ancient times. The use of Greek yogurt as an after-sun ingredient is inspired by the old Greek tradition of applying yogurt to skin affected by sunburn.
Korres, a Greek pharmaceutical cosmetics laboratory, has some after-sun care references with Greek yogurt and is very consistent in its formulas. Its founder Giorgos Korres, a pharmacist that inherited his talent from his grandfather, had the vision to apply the knowledge of traditional Greek medicine to cosmetics.
Yogurt, a natural source of lactose, protein, minerals, and vitamins, increases the water content of the upper layer of the epidermis and refreshes the skin. Proteins, a basic constituent of the skin, and lactose nourish and restructure the epidermis. The richness of minerals and vitamins (Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, and Vitamins A, E, D, B2, and B12) provide antioxidant protection and help reduce the visible signs of aging. Vitamins E and D of Yogurt help to alleviate and repair the damage caused by sunburn.
Under the Sun Summary
Sunbathing for a nice tan is without a doubt en vogue in some cultures, while for others it is still a real taboo. If you do expose yourself to the sun's rays, make sure to use the appropriate cosmetics before and after to alleviate the negative effects of this on your skin. Ingesting a moderate dose (excesses are not good) of foods rich in beta carotenes together with taking care of your skin externally - these are the keys to beautiful and tanned skin. Today, more and more pharmaceutical brands are also proposing oral treatments such as vitamins to prepare your skin against sun exposure. Having beautiful and healthy skin is an easy task when you take good care of it.