Here Comes the Sun – Keeping Yourself Safe
The sun isn’t all bad. Aside from making us feel happier and altogether friendlier, the sun provides us with vitamin D which helps us build healthy bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D is also needed to enhance the intestinal absorption of essential minerals from our diet.
Current guidelines advise us not to bare our skin to more than 15-20 minutes of daily sun exposure without sunscreen. During this time our skin absorbs sufficient amounts of vitamin D to last us all winter. Any more than this appears to affect its absorption.
Why is the sun a health risk?
I’ve seen more clients with skin cancer over the past few years than I ever have. Often, these are people who enjoyed the sun in their younger years when active sunbathing and getting as brown as you could get was the fashion) and now twenty years on are seeing the damage it’s done to their skin, and ultimately their wellbeing and appearance. I’ve seen individuals who have lost the tips of their ears, nose and chunks of their face and body to skin cancer. Protecting your skin now is an investment in your future.
How do the sun’s rays affect us?
Sunlight is electromagnetic radiation. It’s divided into three wavelengths, UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is filtered out by the ozone, oxygen and dust from the atmosphere but UVA and UVB reach the earth (us). This radiation can cause burns, so exposing your skin to it can be likened to roasting a joint!
UVA is the strongest form and penetrates the skin causing damage to the dermis triggering cell mutations (changes in the cell that can go on to develop into cancer) and premature ageing. Ageing occurs due to the metabolic changes within the cells triggered by exposure to UV resulting in free radicals attacking your healthy collagen and elastin. The UV light also attacks Vitamin C in the skin needed for collagen regeneration and new collagen production. As lovely as the sun feels on our skin, it causes pigmentation (age spots), skin thickening, vascular damage (broken capillaries), crêping (destruction of collagen and elastin fibres), and can cause skin and eye cancers.
UVB reaches only the top layer of skin, the epidermis, and causes reddening which is a sign of the skin cells burning. You don’t have to feel sore and have blisters to be burnt. As soon as you’re ‘pinking’ you’re burning so cover up! Pinking indicates changes in the status of the cells that could lead to mutations, particularly if repeated burning takes place. #thinkdontpink
Broad Spectrum is Best
You can remember which UV Ray is which when selecting your suncare by the last letter. UVA = Ageing, UVB = Burning. You need to ensure you’re protected from both rays with a broad spectrum lotion, preferably a physical barrier. Ensure you see a superior or ultra star rating (UVA) and level of SPF (UVB) on the bottle and select the highest SPF factor (UVB) you can find for maximum protection against long term damage.
Here at Soothe, we use naturally derived physical barriers exclusive to the UK via our store. Take a look at our City Shield which also shields against pollution, our Daily High Protection Suncream made with butterfly bush and sea buckthorn, and for the body our Advanced Protection Sun Cream with matching Deep Restoring After Sun.
What is SPF?
All sunscreens carry a Sun Protection Factor, usually abbreviated to SPF. This is followed by a number: 15, 25, 50, etc.
The higher the SPF value, the longer we will be able to stay in the sun without visibly burning. It is the ability of the product to screen out the sun’s harmful rays. If someone would normally start to burn after 5 minutes in the sun when unprotected, by using an SPF15 sun cream they should be able to stay out for 75 minutes (5 minutes x SPF15) without visibly burning.
“I only use SPF when it’s sunny”
The sun rises every day and that means that you are being exposed to UV light every day, even when it’s cloudy. You should, therefore, use UV protection every day. I personally wear an SPF on top of my daily moisturiser. You can get some really effective light-textured ones and ones with a tint like AlumierMD Sheer Hydration that can replace foundation over the summer.
Should I wear a physical or chemical sunscreen?
This is a bit complicated.
Physical sunscreens or ‘sunblocks’ contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide which physically block UV radiation. The rays are bounced off the skin or absorbed on the skin’s surface within their formulation. But they can be messy and leave a whitish or ghostly sheen on the skin.
Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that filter out the rays and can be invisible on the skin but have only recently been effective in protecting against UVA. The preferred aesthetic choice for many as they’re clear on the skin. But concerns have been raised about the effect certain chemicals are having on our wellbeing. Ultimately, its a matter of choice. If you do have any concerns however, research the ingredients listings on the side of the package and make a judgment.
Your health is our priority, which is why we scoured the planet for the safest, naturally derived skincare – we call it Safe for Humans.
Keep Hydrated and Moisturised
The sun can be drying to the skin and dehydrating for your body, so it’s important to keep hydrated with lots of water and keep the skin nourished with a good moisturiser or after sun.
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and becoming unwell. The warmer weather causes our bodies to lose water through perspiration and evaporation at a faster rate than normal. Avoid thirst, dizziness, sunstroke and feeling faint by replenishing your body with plenty of water. Make ice lollies with water and fruit for the kids if they refuse to drink plain water and provide them with plenty of water rich foods such as watermelon and cucumber.
TIP! Don’t assume just because your moisturiser or foundation has an SPF that you’ll be protected adequately, all day or from both UVA and UVB rays. It’s unlikely that you’ll be protected from both types of radiation so keep topping up with a specially designed sunscreen.
How to wear Sunscreen.
- Wearing a moisturiser with an SPF at night time is pointless (there’s no sun in bed!) and it can aggravate your skin, particularly if its a chemical barrier.
- Keep topped up! Reapply sunscreen regularly, every two hours or so to ensure you’re covered. This can be impractical if you rely solely on your moisturiser or foundation for a sunscreen (which one of the reasons why I don’t recommend it – it’s highly unlikely you’re adequately protected.
- Repeated reddening or burning of an area causing changes in the skin cells which could develop into cancers you might not see for twenty years! So bear that in mind next time you’re sitting in the park with friends ignoring the fact that you’re burning. Red equals danger!
- To help soothe your skin after sun exposure you can use an aftersun which will infuse the skin with a little moisture to stop the skin from drying and may contain cooling ingredients. However, it will NOT reverse any damage caused by burning nor will it reduce any chance of skin cancers.
The bottom line
Enjoy the beautiful weather. Top up your Vitamin D but be sensible, keep it to ten minutes a day outside without protection. Apply sunscreen before going out for the day. Keep your children and yourselves hydrated. Top up every two hours. Wear a hat and sunglasses with UV ratings.
Any questions? Give us a call!