For most of us, Summer-time usually means sun, shorts, sandals and bathing suits. But with beach hair and shorter hemlines comes the dangers of a higher risk of skin cancer and the aging process. Sun exposure is essentially, subjecting yourself to sun damage – but in the same note, avoiding the outdoors altogether is both impractical and nearly impossible. Taking preventative measures is crucial in keeping your skin in tip-top condition for the ultimate skin-baring season.
Understanding the Dangers of Overexposure
Sun exposure isn’t necessarily bad – it is a key source of Vitamin D. As with all good things, however, keep exposure in moderation. The ideal maximum is 20 minutes before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m. Anything over is considered overexposure, and any exposure during midday – when the sun is at its harshest – should be limited (if not altogether avoided). Sun rays at this time of day are 10% UVB and 90% UVA: a combination that can cause melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
UVA vs. UVB Rays: What’s the difference?
Rays used to be nondescript and UV protection was generalized. More recent and in depth research has shown that there are two kinds of UV rays: - UVA and UVB – rendering standard sunscreens inadequate. Do look for sun blocks that offer protection from both types.
On average, most people have already been exposed to large amounts of UVA rays throughout their lifetimes. Though less intense than UVB rays, UVA rays are 30–50 times more prevalent and are present during all hours of daylight – even on the cloudiest of days – making it necessary to incorporate SPF protection into your everyday routine.
Wrinkles and sunspots are largely caused by these rays. Able to penetrate glass and deep into the skin, these rays speed up the aging process and contribute to – if not initiate – the development of skin cancers below the surface.
UVB rays cause sun burns and reddening. While UVA rays penetrate beyond the superficial layers, UVB rays damage the skin’s surface layers. Its intensity differs by time of day, locale, forecast, and season, but still holds potential in causing sun damage. These are the rays responsible for change in darkness of skin pigmentation, age spots, and the more common tumors that may ultimately evolve into cancer.
Sun Damage and Aging
Signs associated with aging - wrinkles, freckles, skin thinning, sunspots (also known as age spots), uneven pigmentation – are the aftermath of sun damage. Ninety-percent of wrinkles are caused by the sun, and while intentional overexposure (tanning, sunbathing) is incredibly harmful, two-thirds of all sun damage is surprisingly incidental (walking the dog, jogging or driving).
With that being said sunscreen is not limited to the poolside or beach – it should be applied on a daily basis. Opt for moisturizers and body lotions with SPF, and if possible, always choose a higher SPF for your face. Don’t forget your hands especially when driving. Hands are an instant giveaway to your true age, so invest in a hand cream that offers SPF protection.
Summer Skin Tips
In addition to following these tips, dress to protect. Lightweight, cotton cover-ups along with a cap or broad-brimmed hat will act as shields from harmful UV rays.
Apply sunscreen religiously. It’s a surefire way of protecting your skin. Always apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to allow time for the product to absorb into the skin; re-apply every few hours or as needed. Look for sunscreens that offer protection for both UVA and UVB rays – keep in mind that a high SPF number is no longer enough.
- Wash morning and night with a usda certified organic facial wash.
- Moisturize with SPF. Applying moisturizer with SPF is essential regardless of the season. With the onset of warmer weather, however, consider switching your current moisturizer for another with higher SPF and lighter formulation to prevent sun spots, freckles, and early signs of aging.
- Don’t skimp on eye creams and lip protection. Sun exposure will gradually thin skin and cause wrinkles. Protect the delicate areas of your face with appropriate creams and balms. Continue to use an eye cream, but if your usual cream feels too heavy for summer, replace your current product with a lighter formulation or use only at night. Apply and liberally re-apply a lip balm with SPF.
- Protect your hands and feet too. Your neck, chest, and hands are an instant giveaway to your true age. After moisturizing your face bring it down to your neck as well. Be sure to apply sunscreen to your chest area as it is one of the areas of your body more susceptible to sunburn. Invest in a hand cream that offers SPF protection, and apply it at least 20 minutes before driving – keep in mind that two-thirds of all sun damage is purely incidental.
- Also, with summer comes open-toed shoes and sandals, so be sure to exfoliate, moisturize, and protect exposed feet as well. Take into account that sunscreen will rub off faster than it would from the rest of your body from rubbing against the straps of your shoes and abrasive sand. Thus, it is recommended to re-apply more frequently to prevent burnt feet.
- Boost your block with antioxidants. Skincare products containing antioxidants like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and green tea can help reverse sun damage.
- Keep hydrated. Drink water throughout the day. If you’re on the go, try bringing a bottle and a container of fresh fruit on the go to prevent dehydration and heat stroke.
- Exfoliate. Exfoliate according to your skin type.