When it comes to sun exposure, there are things that we can all agree on. We all know that the warmth of the sun feels great on our skin. Sadly, we’re also aware that it can cause damage. Can the pros and cons be balanced out, or do we have to stay out of the sun at all costs to save our skin?
Sun is actually very good for us. It releases endorphins into the blood system that work like a natural drug to give you a sense of happiness and well-being. It also triggers the production of vitamin D – especially important for women to keep bones strong and healthy. Most of us even feel we look better with a little bit of color. So how can you get a good natural tan without sacrificing your skin? It’s time to find out our SPs from our F’s.
The first thing we need to understand is the idea of sun protection. An SPF is a Sun ProtectionFactor and the number of the SPF you use indicates how long you could be in the sun before starting to turn red. If you are fair skinned and would start to redden after only 10 minutes without any sun protection, an SPF15 would give you 150 minutes before you needed to get out of the sun. If you have a medium skin that doesn’t go red for 30 minutes then that same SPF would allow you 450 minutes of sun exposure before you started to burn.
However, you also have to remember that this only applies if your skin is properly prepared for sun exposure and that you have applied the SPF correctly and frequently.
1. To make sure you get the proper protection you should apply the SPF generously at least 30 minutes before going out in the sun.
2. The sun is different depending on when and where you are. For example, it is much stronger in the tropics than it is the UK. A good general guide is that the sun will be at its most intense between 11am and 2pm and this is when you should stay covered-up, sit in the shade. However, if you were somewhere closer to the equator, that would change and you may find that the sun is stronger until later in the afternoon.
3. When you go on holiday you should start with a very high protection factor and a minimum amount of exposure. As your skin becomes more used to UV exposure, you can start to reduce the SPF and increase the exposure time. But that doesn’t mean get silly. The FDA clearly states that the lowest SPF for daily wear is an SPF15 for your face and an SPF10 for your body.4. You may think that the idea of sitting in the sun for the first week of your holiday with an SPF25 would be a pointless exercise. You would think you would come back as pale as you went away, but that would be untrue. The first three to four days would show little change in color. Then, all of a sudden, you will start to see a change and you can start to drop down to an SPF15. As you developed the color more slowly, you will find that the color is more lasting once you return home. The faster you tan, the more superficial it is and the faster you lose it.
1. Dehydration can be a problem. If you go away with skin that is dry and dehydrated, it will burn more quickly. You need to build up the water reserve in the skin as much as possible before you go. Also remember that travelling itself will dehydrate the skin. One of the best preparations for the skin is to use a moisturizer or sunscreen with a tan accelerator. These not only moisturize the skin, but also will start to trigger the melanin production. Melanin is the natural tanning pigment in your skin so it is ready for UV exposure. A regular exfoliation routine will help as well. Getting rid of dry and dead patches will ensure an even color once you start tanning.
2. Age is also an important consideration. Children and babies need more protection. More mature skins also need more protection. Skin gets thinner as you get older and is also more prone to pigmentation and dark spots. Give yourself a higher protection in the sun and maybe invest in one of the new slightly higher priced anti-ageing sun products. A self-tanning product, often a temptation prior to a holiday in the sun, does not give you the same protection as a tan. You might look more tanned than normal, but you are not safe from sun damage.
3. Pre-sun vitamins really do help also. They will prepare the skin in both moisture as well as triggering the production of melanin. Start using them a few weeks before your holiday and continue them until a few weeks after. They will help make the most of your exposure while giving you protection from within.
4. Re-apply! Remember to re-apply – the more frequently, the better. If you have been in the water, reapply. If you have been perspiring, reapply. If you turn over to bake the other side, re-apply.
5. Extra protection. You have areas on the face or body that may need a little bit of extra protection. Your hands and face are usually exposed year round, but some places on your body only see the sun a few times a year and need more care. Consider using your higher face protection on your upper chest and sensitive zones like these, as well as tops of the ears, lips, and any places that are paler. This is also a good idea if you have a strap mark or a different tan-line from switching swimsuits during the holiday.
6. Moisturize well after you come out of the sun and get your skin temperature lowered. A nice cool shower will refresh and give you a damp base to apply a good moisturizer. Have a look at after-sun moisturizers that have a low percentage of self-tan in them. This does the double duty of keeping skin well hydrated for the next day’s exposure as well as giving your skin an extra color boost.
7. Use common sense. Skin only goes brown as a defense mechanism. A brown skin is a damaged skin. A light golden-brown color makes you look healthy and well. A dark flat brown makes you look like shoe leather
Have a great time in the sun and always remember that it is better to be safe than sorry.