Safer sun exposure

By Clare Dickens

Why sacrifice the health of your skin for the sake of some summer colour? Here's how to get a truly healthy-looking glow during the warmer months. Clare Dickens blog on MiNDFOOD.

As the sun shines bright we are tempted year after year to get a suntan. Why sacrifice the health of your skin for the sake of some summer colour. We are all aware that the sun is detrimental to the appearance of our complexion yet we continue to put our skin at risk.

A massive 80 per cent of visible skin ageing is a result of sun exposure. The effects of ultra violet (UV) radiation can been seen at face value; uneven skin tone, pigmentation, premature fine lines and wrinkles, sagging eyelids, under eye shadows and loss of facial contours.

It does not mean, however, that we have to hibernate while the sun shines. A Sun Protection Factor (SPF) cream allows us to stay in the sun for longer than our natural burn time. For example if you can stay in the sun for 10 minutes without protection before burning, an SPF 15 product will increase this time to 150 minutes.

However there is more to safe sun exposure than just a number. How much product you apply and how often are both equally important. An adult should be applying the equivalent of a shot glass per application, 15-30 minutes before going out into the sun for thorough protection. This application should be repeated every two hours, more frequently if you are swimming.

Be aware that layering different skin care products does not accumulate protection. SPF 15 + SPF 15 = SPF 15!

Check out the label. Ensure your choice is boasting the term ‘broad spectrum’. It is imperative that your skin is protected from both UVA rays, which are responsible for accelerated ageing, and UVB rays, the cause of initial redness and skin burning which continues to develop for 12-24hrs.

There are two types of defence; either a physical barrier which deflect or block the harmful rays from penetrating the skin or a chemical screen which absorbs them. Look out for ingredients: titanium dioxide or zinc oxide and oxybenzone, respectively.

In recent times SPF products have become more sophisticated. Along with ingredients to simply shelter our skin they now contain beneficial components, such as antioxidants, which naturally help the skin defend itself better. Remember that an SPF is an addition to your existing skin care routine and should be applied after the moisturiser suited to your skin type.

Any colour change on the skin equates to cellular damage, so get sun smart:

Limit sun exposure – Stay out of the sun at peak at times (11am–3pm) and be aware of the length of time you are spending in the sun. Hours tend to slip by as you relax at the beach.

Wear protective clothing – A wide brimmed hat is a must. Invest in one you enjoy wearing. Light cotton or linen long sleeves are also a must for covering those delicate decolletes (area below the neck to top of breast) and shoulders.

Apply sunscreens – ALWAYS. This should just extend onto the body during summer months. An SPF should be applied to the face, neck and hands daily year long.

Move around – A walk on the beach will encourage an overall tan and prevent that tell tale stripe.

Seek shade – Don’t rely on the tree to be available to you. Take your own shade in the form of a sun umbrella or sun shade tent and enjoy the sun without the burn.

Remember there are many products available to give you that sunkissed look. So why bake it when you can fake it?


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