Skin Health Tips for Summer
Protect Your Skin
How to Protect Skin During The Summer
Summertime. Just the thought of it brings visions of beaches, fireworks, and long lazy hours outside. It’s a time many of us look forward to throughout the entire year, as it represents fun, freedom, and nice weather. However, the summer can also be a very damaging time for your body, if you do not spend the time to take proper precautions for your skin.
Although many people see summer as an ideal opportunity to get as tan as possible, this can be a very dangerous mindset. On one hand, getting enough sunlight can do great things for us. It can boost happiness levels by increasing serotonin levels and is essential for your body to produce enough Vitamin D. However, spending too much time outside during peak sunlight hours in the summer without protection from sunscreen can greatly increase the risk for skin cancer. That’s why it’s important to enjoy time outside in the sun, but also to make sure you do it safely and know how to limit your risks. Read on to learn some of the ways that you and your family can stay safe in the summertime sun.
Your Skin is Your Home
Sunscreen with SPF 15 or Higher
One of the most important ways we can protect ourselves in the sun is by applying sunscreen with an SPF level of 15 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied about 30 minutes before going out into the sun and re-applied every 90-120 minutes for the duration of your time outside. Make sure the sunscreen you’re applying is water resistant, otherwise sweat and swimming can greatly diminish its benefits. Even if it is water-resistant, it is important to re-apply after swimming or being in water. Also, make sure your sunscreen is broad-spectrum protection, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. How much sunscreen is ideal? Skin experts recommend a teaspoon’s worth for your face and enough to fill a shot glass for your body. Another recommendation would be to wear a hat to protect your head from the sun.
There are many women’s make-up foundations today that offer SPF protection. But many top skin-care doctors argue that this is not enough protection if you’ll be out in the sun. It’s important to supplement make-up with SPF with stronger sunscreen.
Don’t skip sunscreen on cloudy days! There are countless stories of people neglecting to put on sunscreen on cloudy days that ended up with terrible burns. UV rays can get through clouds, so be sure to protect yourself even if it isn’t sunny out.
UVA vs. UVB rays
During the peak hours of sunlight, the sun’s rays are 10% UVB rays and 90% UVA rays. This combination is known to cause melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
What’s the difference between the two types of UV rays? UVA rays are less intense than UVB rays and are present at all hours of the day. UVA rays cause wrinkles and sunspots, and speed up the aging process. These rays are able to penetrate glass and can contribute to skin cancers below the surface. UVB rays cause sunburns and reddening of the skin. These rays damage the skin’s surface layers and cause the change in the darkness of skin pigmentation. UVB rays are thought to initiate tumors that can turn cancerous. UVB rays differ in intensity depending on the time of day, location, and time of year. As you can see, both UVA and UVB rays are harmful and we need protection from them both when we are out in the sun. Make sure your sunscreen protects against both and is classified as “broad spectrum sunscreen protection”.
Protect Sensitive Areas of Your Body
Even among those who make sure to religiously apply sunscreen, there are a few areas of the body that are often forgotten. One example is your lips. Studies have shown that about 70% of people fail to adequately protect their lips when they are out in the sun. Lips are particularly vulnerable to exposure to extreme sunlight, as they have no melanin, which acts as a natural sunscreen for other areas of the body. As with other areas of the body, it’s important to keep lips exfoliated so that dead cells can be cleared and growth of new cells can be stimulated. Next, find a proper lip balm that will seal in moisture while protecting you from the sun’s rays. Balms made of materials like bee’s wax or paraffin will seal in moisture and provide long-lasting coverage. Make sure your balm has an SPF level of 15 or higher, and remember to re-apply every few hours. There are more and more options today for lip balm with SPF, and many colored balms are now made with SPF.
In addition to your lips, your ears are another often forgotten body part that are particularly susceptible to sun damage. Wearing a hat offers a great deal of protection for your ears, as long as they are covered. Also, remember to apply SPF to both the front and backs of your ears.
Don’t forget your hands and feet! Both of these body parts are commonly forgotten when applying sunscreen. Many people show signs of aging and sun exposure on their hands, as they become wrinkly and aged. Make sure to cover these parts of your body to avoid a nasty burn.
Your eyes are also very sensitive body parts when it comes to the sun. Although many people wear sunglasses, it’s important to take the time to ensure that they will offer enough protection. Sunglasses should offer at least UV 400 protection. Experts say that gray and brown shades are best for top protection.
Exfoliation and Hydration
If you will be out in the sun, make sure both your body and your skin are hydrated. Drink enough water! Although this health tip is true every day, it is incredibly important when you will be out in the sun. The recommended amount is 8 eight-ounce cups of water every day, but it can be prudent to drink more on days when you will be outside exposed to sun and sweating.
Also be sure to keep skin hydrated with plenty of moisturizer and sunscreen, the sun will dry it out. Exfoliation is a major part of keeping your skin hydrated. Exfoliation refers to the process of clearing dead skin cells to boost the production of new cells. This can be done in a variety of ways. There are many skin scrubs on the market that can be used for exfoliation, but many experts recommend a natural scrub. You can create your own scrub with sea salt or sugar. Mix the sugar or salt with massage oil to make a paste. You can use your hands or a body brush to spread the scrub over your body. The friction works to remove dead cells and produces new, smooth skin. Exfoliate in the morning before applying sunscreen, so that it can be more readily absorbed by your skin.
Sunscreen for Children
As important as it is to be mindful of our own sun safety, it is perhaps even more important to be mindful of our children’s time in the sun. For one, kids are more prone to spending hours playing outdoors in the summer, especially during the peak hours of 10 am- 2 pm when rays are the strongest. Also, sunburns earlier in life can have a major long-term impact. The AAD estimates that kids get 80% of their total lifetime sun exposure by the time the turn 18. Suffering from a few serious sunburns early in life can greatly increase your risk of skin cancer later on. In fact, one severe sunburn that leads to skin blistering doubles your chance of melanoma, and this is particularly true for children under age 18.
Babies younger than six months old should be kept out of the sun entirely. If they need to be in the sun foe short periods of time, make sure they are completely covered and that their strollers offer shade. Children and teenagers should be sure to apply and re-apply sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses, and stay out of the sun as much as possible during peak hours in order to maximize protection.
Keeping kids clothed and covered is also helpful when they will be outside for long durations. Encourage them to play in the shade on sunny summer days, or at least to mix in time in the shade with their time in the sun to reduce the amount of direct sun exposure.
Treating your body right even when you are out of the sun can have a significant impact on how it reacts to sun exposure.
For example, our diet and the foods we put into our bodies has a major effect on our overall well-being. There are specific foods to focus on that can aid in protecting our bodies from the sun, including dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, blueberries, and various types of melon. These foods are high in antioxidants, which can boost your skin’s collagen growth. Protein-rich foods, like white meat and fish, also help nourish skin and reduce sun damage. In addition to aiding our bodies with sun exposure, a diet high in these foods is great for our overall health. Foods or skin treatments containing Vitamins C and E are also very beneficial and contain antioxidants.
For those looking for a tan without the sun, spray tanning or bronzing makeup is the best bet. Tanning beds should be avoided, as they have been linked to skin cancer and can be just as harmful as being outside in the sun for hours. Some top dermatologists in Short Hills say tanning beds are even worse than the sun, as they expose the body to the harmful UVA rays that have been known to cause skin cancer.
Also, if you are taking any prescription medications, make sure to talk to your doctor and read the label so that you are aware of any sun risks. Some medications leave the skin very susceptible to a burn and can significantly increase sun sensitivity. It’s prudent to know this information before being out in the sun.
Lastly, make sure to get enough sleep! This is a health tip that we hear time and time again, but it is incredibly important for balancing hormones and helping the body’s production of collagen. These factors can have a major impact on how your body reacts to sun exposure.
What to do if I Get Burned
Of course, mistakes happen. There are some days when we are not re-applying sunscreen as often when we should or when we fail to apply it at all because it doesn’t seem like the sun is strong enough to cause a burn. Whatever the reason is, there are still measures that can be taken to minimize some of the damage caused by the sun.
One key ingredient is aloe Vera. Called by the ancient Egyptians the “plant of immortality”, aloe Vera has served many important medicinal purposes throughout human history. The plant secretes a clear gel that can be applied topically to soothe the skin and heal wounds. Aloe Vera treats sunburn by healing the epithelial layer of skin that covers the body. It also acts as a moisturizer, which speeds up the time that it takes for your skin to heal.
While it’s never a good thing to get a sunburn, you can reduce the damage (and suffering!) caused by a burn by frequently applying aloe Vera to the affected area as soon as you notice redness and pain. Make sure your skin is moisturized and does not get a chance to dry out, as this can delay healing.
Skin Cancer Screening
The Skin Care Foundation recommends that you check yourself out once a month to monitor any growths, skin spots, or changes in moles. It’s important to have a baseline idea of where your body stands prior to being in the sun, so that you can pick up on any changes. In addition to doing your own screening, be sure to see a dermatologist once a year to get a formal check-up.
To conclude, it’s important and beneficial to spend some time outdoors in the summer. If you make sure you’re well-informed on how to stay safe in the sun, you and your family will be much healthier and happier in the long run!