Summer is in full swing here in Arizona, with temperatures already hitting 100 degrees. I’m lounging by the pool as often as I can and dreaming of a trip to the beach. Hopefully I will take advantage of a few of these carefree days while I still have them and get some salty air!
Anyway, before my story bores everyone to tears, as the season change, so does the beauty routine. Summer’s long, sunny days in chlorinated or salty water not to mention all other kinds of outdoor activities that can take a toll on our bodies. As much as I love to soak up rays, to look my best during these hottest months and protect my skin, I use a handful of tricks to keep it looking and feeling amazing all summer long. It’s important to show your skin some love! I love being tan, but I’ve learned the importance of sun care. The good news is it’s not time consuming or hard at all.
Before you head into the sunshine simply by exfoliating to gently scrub away old cells and ready skin for vitamin D. Smooth skin will absorb that protective layer of sunscreen. Don’t worry about expensive products, you can make a simple sugar scrub that will do the trick! (You can even check out a recipe I created in DIY.) You can rub it on your arms and legs then wipe down with a wet washcloth. (It will also stimulate blood flow to help remove toxins.) Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before heading out into sunshine.
Who Needs Sunscreen?
Everyone! Sunscreen use can help prevent skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race. In fact, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:
- Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
- SPF 30 or higher
- Water resistance
But do I really need a high SPF?
UV radiation reaches the earth in the form of UVB and UVA rays. Thus, higher SPFs can help, although there is not a significant difference in a high SPF. An SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93 percent of UVB radiation, while SPF 30 sunscreen blocks nearly 97 percent. Furthermore, higher SPF values offer some safety margin, since consumers generally do not apply enough sunscreen. It is also important to remember that high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs. A high-number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication. All sunscreens should be applied approximately every two hours or according to time on the label, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
A sunscreen that offers the above helps to protect your skin from sunburn, early skin aging and skin cancer. However, sunscreen alone cannot fully protect you. In addition to wearing sunscreen, dermatologists recommend taking the following steps to protect your skin and find skin cancer early:
- Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, you may wish to use a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
- Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, itching or bleeding on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early.
Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. What is the difference between the rays?
Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays that reach the earth — UVA rays and UVB rays. Overexposure to either can lead to skin cancer. In addition to causing skin cancer, here’s what each of these rays do:
- UVA rays (or aging rays) can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, and can pass through window glass.
- UVB rays (or burning rays) are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.
The United States Department of Health & Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer have declared UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
So what type of sunscreen should I use?
The best type of sunscreen is the one you will use again and again. Just make sure it offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher and is water resistant.
The kind of sunscreen you use is a matter of personal choice, and may vary depending on the area of the body to be protected. Available sunscreen options include lotions, creams, gels, ointments, wax sticks and sprays.
- Creams are best for dry skin and the face.
- Gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest.
- Sticks are good to use around the eyes.
- Sprays are sometimes preferred by parents since they are easy to apply to children. Make sure to use enough of these products to thoroughly cover all exposed skin. Do not inhale these products or apply near heat, open flame or while smoking. It is important to note that current FDA regulations on testing and standardization do not pertain to spray sunscreens. The agency continues to evaluate these products to ensure safety and effectiveness.
- There also are sunscreens made for specific purposes, such as for sensitive skin and babies.
*Some sunscreen products are also available as combination products in moisturizers and cosmetics. While these products are convenient, they also need to be reapplied in order to achieve the best sun protection.
*Sunscreen retains its sun protection strength for up to three years, however if a bottle has an expiration date, it should be followed. Otherwise just be sure to look for visible signs that it may no longer be good. Change in color, consistency or odor of the product mean it’s time to toss it and purchase a new bottle.
Moisturize & Hydrate
There is no safe way to tan. Every time you tan, you damage your skin. As this damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer.
So a tan is a burn that you want to care for well. Post-tan, you’ll want to hit the shower and run some cool water on your skin. It will help with redness and irritation while also avoiding that pesky peeling of any remaining dead skin cells. Hot water would just continue to dehydrate skin. Now you can apply moisturizer or aloe vera to thirsty skin and it will be replenished properly with nutrients. You’ll want to look for a moisturizer that has soothing ingredients that will reduce redness and inflammation like the above mentioned aloe vera, geranium oil, oatmeal and green tea. Keep in mind allergies you might have or ingredients that could be irritating to your skin to avoid any discomfort. Pop lotion in the fridge for cool application as well!
*You’ll want to continue moisturizing in the following days to keep replenishing skin, especially if you are out in the sun daily. Fake a tan with bronzer, just try to keep it with a shade or 2 of your natural skin tone so it’s not obvious…or orange in appearance.
*Also remember your hair can dry out and become damaged in the sun too! A gentle and effective trick is to dab a little hydrating shampoo to your scalp with cool water. Make sure to bring a cute hat with you on outdoor adventures! Have a safe and fun summer!
Information gathered from American Academy of Dermatology