How to Take Care of Your Skin This Summer
Summer holidays are for family picnics, poolside fun, days at the beach and sunshine. But sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which consists of different types of rays that cause sunburn, skin damage, and can contribute to skin cancer.
Before you have your fun in the sun this summer, here’s what you need to know about taking care of your skin.
UVA vs UVB
UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer. Unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to premature aging and wrinkling (photoaging), and suppression of the immune system. UVB rays will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin and play a key role in the development of skin cancer.
What is SPF?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect your skin from UVB rays. SPF is based on how long it takes for sunscreen treated skin to burn compared to skin with no sunscreen, e.g. an SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, SPF 50 goes up to 98% and SPF 100 will protect you against 99% of UVA and UVB rays. It is important to note that no SPF offers 100% protection.
When it comes to UVA rays, there’s no rating to tell you how good a sunscreen is. To ensure your skin is protected, most doctors suggest looking for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least one of the following ingredients:
- Titanium dioxide,
- Zinc oxide.
Your Choice of Protection
You would think sunscreen is sunscreen, but choosing between a spray, cream or lotion may affect the likelihood of you using it. Here are the benefits of each:
- Creams tend to be more hydrating — good news for those who have dry skin. They come in tubes and bottles for easy application and are perfect for everyday use.
- Lotions are lighter and absorb quicker than their creamy counterparts. They are easy to apply and won’t feel so heavy on your skin. Use on your face for extra day protection and all over your body when heading for the beach or swimming pool.
- Sprays are light and super easy to apply and reapply. However, it’s more difficult to tell how much you’ve put on, so make sure you apply liberally all over. Just be careful not to inhale it or spray it in your nose.
- Gels are great for sport and water-based activities since they absorb quickly and effectively. They’ll also stick on your skin while you move and sweat, without making you feel uncomfortable.
- Aftersun gels are perfect for when your skin is feeling sensitive. The soothing ingredients will help to rehydrate and cool you, helping you keep that beautiful glow after sun exposure. However, Aftersun products are created to refresh, hydrate and soothe the skin only, and won’t create a barrier of protection.
A quick dab of sunscreen before you go out isn’t enough to keep you protected. Instead, we recommend you follow these guidelines:
- Apply generous amounts of sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before you go outdoors.
- Use sunscreen on all skin surfaces that will be exposed, such as your neck, the tops of your feet, your ears and the top of your head. Apply a lip balm or lipstick with an SPF of at least 30 to your lips.
- Since UV light can pass through clouds, use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
- Check the sunscreen’s expiration date.
- Avoid using sunscreen on children younger than 6 months. Instead, try to limit sun exposure.
- Remember, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen!
More Than Just Sunscreen
Sunscreen isn’t your only port of call against the damaging effects of sunburn. In addition to applying your sunscreen, you should:
- Avoid the sun during peak hours. Generally, this is between 10am and 4pm.
- Ensure you have extra protection when near water or concrete; they reflect light and increase the risk of sunburn.
- Wear sun protective clothing. This includes pants, shirts with long sleeves, sunglasses and hats.