Summertime is about a month away, and while we look forward to longer, warmer days as well as the fun activities that this delightful season brings, we also must be prepared to take extra care of our skin by incorporating daily pro-active steps to ensure our faces and bodies stay protected, hydrated and youthful-looking for this season…and most importantly, going forward since sun damage is cumulative.
Not only the weather, but also the busy-ness of Summer often keeps us from fully paying attention to the day-to-day care of ourselves in regards to sun protection. It’s not just about a few swipes of sunscreen applied when you remember to do so. We must do our part everyday. Protecting our skin and our health during Summer has its challenges. It is well known that the most dangerous time to be exposed to the Sun’s rays are between 10 am and 2 pm, yet also be aware of the sun’s position and intensity whenever and wherever you are during daylight hours. Spending 10 to 20 minutes a day in low sun light conditions is good for Vitamin D absorption…more than that increases your risk of over-exposure and sun damage.
The main challenge of Summer is to counter-act PHOTO-AGING which actually occurs every day, 365 days of the year, yet sunlight in the Summer time is more intense, daylight lasts longer, and the heat will often cause any protection applied in the morning to be gone in a couple of hours due to perspiration and exertion.
Photo-Aging (aging caused by the exposure to sunlight) leads to Hyper-Pigmentation which shows up as sun spots, freckling, discolorations, and new growths on the skin’s surface. Photo-aging also is what causes loss of Collagen and Elastin in the skin’s dermis because sun damage creates “cross-linking” of these fibers deep within the skin’s tissues making skin less flexible and likely to wrinkle. Both UVA (A=aging) and UVB (B= burning) rays of the sun must be screened. One of the first things to look at on a sunscreen product label is to make sure it states “Broad-Spectrum” protection. There is a misnomer about higher Sun Protection Factor (spf) being better, however, this is not necessarily true.
There is no total sunblock ingredient except for pure Zinc Oxide. A 15 spf rating equals approximately 93% screening. Over 15 spf, there is only a possible increase of 2-4 % more although the higher spf may last a little longer on the skin. Unfortunately, most people let the notion of a higher than 15 spf mislead them into thinking they are 100% protected, so they forget to apply more throughout the day especially when they are out golfing, swimming, walking, gardening or engaging in another outing where activity doesn’t allow for a break from the sun. It’s no wonder that a “surprise” sunburn occurs.
Also, when receiving a rating, an amount of one full Shot Glass of product is used for the exposed area when tested. We’re not really putting on that much sunscreen are we? So the thinner, lighter application of product also reduces the measure of protection.
During sun exposure, please use clothing and accessories as extra physical sun protection, that is–
Hats, wide-brimmed are best. I do not recommend head visors as adequate sun hats because they don’t provide full shade for your face, often leaving the most vulnerable areas of forehead, temples, cheeks, bottom of nose, upper lip and chin exposed which can easily become burned or mottled with discolorations;
Round necklines rather than v-necks are recommended to protect the delicate and easily damaged décolleté area (one of the most easily sun damaged areas of a woman’s body); and Bandanas/Scarves for neckline;
Long-sleeved, lightweight cotton shirts or blouses; Long, lightweight cotton slacks; Sunglasses (large enough to protect the eyes and upper cheek areas);
Umbrellas –both a lightweight personal sun umbrella as well as sturdier ones for the beach or outdoor picnics, etc.
It’s also very important to fully protect Hair & Scalp, Ears, Hands & Feet with physical blocks as well as sunscreen. If you already see spots on your hands or feet, make sure to take immediate action by covering them daily with sunscreen, wearing gloves while driving, playing outdoor sports, or gardening, and wear protective shoes whenever possible.
Types of Sunscreens–I highly recommend Zinc Oxide as the safest and most effective sunscreen. Titanium Dioxide is okay, but not as safe as Zinc. Stay away from any nano particle products. The latest research has found that many of the other sun screening ingredients actually cause skin cancer. Zinc Oxide can be found in lotions, creams, and tinted moisturizers.
Be careful of relying on Mineral Powders as your only facial sun protection–they must be applied thickly and evenly to work, and many contain clogging oils in their formulas.
Spray-on sunscreens are highly discouraged since #1–they don’t cover evenly; #2–Breathing impairment and danger to respiratory system (your own as well as by-standers) is risked by breathing in the chemical mist residue; #3–they are highly toxic to the Environment. All of the spray brands contain bad chemicals that go into our Water Supply (pools, spas, oceans, rivers, lakes, streams, etc) as well as down the drain when you shower or bathe after using them. Spray-on sunscreens are especially dangerous for children’s sensitive skin and systems.
It’s also important to make time to renew and repair your skin with professional facial treatments during the Summer. Make several appointments during June, July and August with an experienced, holistic esthetician who will know to avoid peels and other aggressive treatments at this time of year that will leave your skin overly sensitive by thinning the stratum corneum (skin surface) and, as a result, will most likely cause the skin to burn resulting in hyper-pigmentation and photo-aging. Gentle, restorative and hydrating treatments are the protocol I recommend to keep the skin looking its best and protected during the Summer.
By relying on a pro-active regimen of sun safety, consistent care at home, as well as professional skin care treatments, you will be able to conteract the damaging effects of the more challenging season of Summer. Incorporating specialty products such as masks, cooling toner sprays, gentle face and body exfoliators, and lightweight yet hydrating body lotions are the key to prepare, treat, and heal your one and only precious skin.
In my next blog, I will be recommending my choice of products specifically for Summer Sun Care. Meanwhile, please re-read this post to really understand how to protect yourself and your loved ones from over-exposure and sun damage. You’ll be grateful you did