Summer is here, which means tanning season is in full force. Some soak up excessive vitamin D intentionally and others unintentionally — via “outdoorsy” activities like camping and attending outdoor music festivals. But, as we all know, too much fun in the sun can wreak havoc on your fragile skin.
Not only are you more vulnerable to contracting melanoma and non-melanoma—the two leading sun-related skin cancers in the U.S.—but the intense heat and humidity can also make you more susceptible to developing burns, bumps, rashes and speed up the aging process. Just take a look at this recent photo The New England Journal of Medicine published of a 69-year-old truck driver who spent 25 years on the road. The entire left side of his face— the side that faced the sun for all those years— is more noticeably wilted and wrinkled than the right. Yes, UVA’s can penetrate through glass.
The sun’s UVA and UVB rays are serious business. This doesn’t suggest you should stay clear of the sun like a vampire, but taking the necessary precautions during the summer (and throughout the following years) can save your life. More than 75,000 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year alone, according to the American Cancer Society. Melanoma looks like irregular dark spots and is usually a diameter greater than the size of a pencil tip eraser. It can be painless. So make sure to visit your dermatologist if any suspicious spots or moles appear.
Preventative measures haven’t changed much. Wearing protective gear such as hats, sunglasses, rash guards, and slathering on sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on your entire body every two hours can undoubtedly help you maintain youthful looking skin, prevent blistering, and decrease the chances of contracting skin cancer.
But did you know that drinking a margarita poolside can do some damage too? Accidently spilling lime-infused margarita on your skin can leave blotches that can last up to six months — all thanks to the sun, according to Dr. Gene Rubinstein, dermatologist and clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
For some additional unconventional tips and common misconceptions of skincare continue reading below.
Darker-Skinned People Rarely Get Sunburned
Dark and olive skin individuals may not be as “easily” burned as their fair skin counterparts, but they can get sunburned too. They are also more likely to get melasma, a skin discoloration brought on by the sun, warns Dr. Rubinstein. Dark and olive skin people are also more likely to develop dry and ashy skin after applying most sunscreens. This is because the average sunscreen contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, two ingredients that can make the skin turn white. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 55 has a matte finish and does not contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Sunscreens Work Immediately
This is false. Sunscreens need a good 20 to 30 minutes before it’s activated, so always make sure to apply sunscreen before you step directly into the sun. It’s also important you don’t forget to apply “broad spectrum” sunscreen to every part of your body, including ears, back of your neck, and even your feet—legendary Reggae Singer Bob Marley died of melanoma of the toes. Dr. Rubinstein suggests keeping a bottle of sunscreen near your toothbrush. This way, you can make applying sunscreen a part of your morning routine. Women should apply sunscreen before applying makeup. For those who tend to breakout easily, aim for an oil-free sunscreen.
Mosquito Repellent and Sunscreen Can’t Be Applied Together
They can be applied simultaneously, but it needs to be done correctly. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in the Dermatology Department at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City explains: “Combining them may increase DEET penetration into your skin. Too much DEET absorption into the skin can cause irritation and a rash.” To reap the benefits without the rashes, Zeichner says to apply sunscreen then repellent about 20 to 30 minutes later.
Sunscreen Doesn’t Expire
They do. However shelf life is pretty long, somewhere roughly around three years, explains Zeichner. So you may not have to buy new sunscreen every summer, but do toss out the bottles that are past their expiration date.
Lips Don’t Get Burned
Lips don’t have melanin, the pigment that makes you tan when out in the sun. So lips are actually the most sensitive and fragile parts of your face. Applying a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher every two hours is ideal.
If you follow all of the above tips but still manage to get burned, you need to treat the area right away. Some experts recommend a combination of cold compresses, ibuprofen, and hydrocortisone to reduce redness and inflammation but you can try some DYI recipes, too. Pamela Bond, a Miami-based master aesthetician, skin fitness innovator, and certified health coach shares with us some of her favorite sunburn remedies and recipes for glowing skin:
To Soothe Burned Skin: Aloe Inside & Out
“Aloe is at the top of my beautifying foods list as it’s loaded with amino acids, vitamins and minerals and it’s the best emollient on earth,” Bond says.
To Heal Inside: In 1 oz shot glass, pour equal parts Aloe Vera juice and Goji Berry Juice. “Aloe’s polysaccharides contain hydrogen which is what we need to create hydration inside and out,” says Bond. “This coupled with Goji Berri’s ultra-hydrating properties makes this the perfectly blended shot.”
To Heal Outside: Simply apply the inner gel of an aloe Vera leaf to the skin, concentrating on burned areas. “When applied topically, aloe Vera stimulates the production of Langerhans (skin) cells both locally and systemically,” Bond says. “On the cellular level, there is formation of sunburn toxins that cause skin inflammation and decrease of Langerhans and mast cells which are important immune cells. By applying aloe Vera, skin is soothed and repaired.”
To Get Glowing Summer Skin: Beautifying Salad and Dressing
Summer Skin Beautifying Salad
- 1 bunch of spinach—spinach is a good source of vitamin c and selenium, antioxidants needed to help get rid of sun damaging free radicals
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 small cucumber diced— cucumbers are cooling and soothing high in silica which help maintain collagen in skin
- 1 sliced watermelon diced
- 1/4 cup of young Coconut meat— coconut has the ability to rejuvenate age-related oxidative tissue damage
Glow Skin Salad Dressing
- 3 limes, skin and pit removed
- 1/4 cup coconut water— coconut water hydrates and puts electrolytes back into cells and skin because when you burn you dehydrate
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 cup basil, packed
- 4 tbsp raw honey or agave (you can substitute Stevia here for a low-sugar variation)
- ½ cup olive oil
Put all ingredients except the oil in a blender or food processor and blend on high until well combined. Next, with the motor running, add oil in a thin stream, until the mixture is rich and emulsified.
The summer is a great time to enjoy the warmer temperatures, cool pools, and explore the great outdoors— just make sure that you’re protecting yourself and your family from the harsh sun.
Photo: CMN.com Staff