Who doesn’t love getting outside and soaking up the warm rays of the sun? There are many benefits to sunshine on our skin including increased energy, better moods, and getting our vitamin D which is important for normal bone development. However, when it comes to the sun and ultraviolet rays, too much of a good thing can come with severe consequences.
The question is, how do you balance it? What can you do to get the most out of the great outdoors while protecting yourself? Education is key, so here is what you need to know about sun damage and protecting that wonderful skin of yours:
How the sun damages your skin
In the outer layer of the skin there are cells that contain something called melanin, which protects our skin from ultraviolet rays. Tanning is due to an increased production of melanin from sunlight and that is what leads to a darkening of the skin.
A sunburn, on the other hand, is caused when ultraviolet rays penetrate the outer layers of the skin and pass into the deeper layers. This occurs with too much exposure to direct sunlight and can damage or kill skin cells, leading to reduced skin elasticity and can cause premature aging. Many years of frequent, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays is the leading cause of skin cancer.
Protecting your skin against ultraviolet rays
The number one way to protect yourself is to properly apply sunscreen. Sounds easy but the truth is, most of us are doing it wrong. Follow these tips to keep your skin protected:
- Use a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
- Make sure you apply enough sunscreen – most adults require an ounce of sunscreen (about as much as you can hold in the palm of your hand) to fully cover all exposed skin. Don’t forget about your ears, neck and the tops of your feet!
- Sunscreen should to be applied 15-30 minutes before you go outside.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating excessively.
- In addition to applying sun block properly it is a good idea to cover up sensitive areas, wear a hat, and limit sun exposure between 10am and 2pm as this is when ultraviolet rays are at their peak, especially for those with lower melanin levels (aka those who burn easily).
Treating a sunburn
Even with precautions, sunburns can still occur. If you find yourself wincing in pain from too much fun in the sun, here’s what to do:
- Take a cool bath but leave all products out of the tub. Just let the water soothe and once done, gently pat your skin dry with a towel.
- If there is any blistering, see a physician immediately.
- Avoid greasy creams or lotions and apply a gel that works double duty by soothing and healing the skin. The aloe vera and other core ingredients in Nature’s Aid work to soothe the burn while reducing inflammation and irritation. Further, aloe assists with the natural process of cell division and exfoliation, rejuvenating and rebuilding healthy tissue at an accelerated rate.
Preventative measures against sun damage
It is always a good idea to apply an after-sun product with antioxidant properties to hydrate, nourish and rejuvenate the skin as well as slow down cell damage caused by free radicals due to ultraviolet rays.
On a final note, take the time to examine your skin regularly, looking for the development of suspicious growths or changes to existing skin lesions. Early detection and treatment are key when it comes to skin cancer and when in doubt, it is always better to err on the safe side.