Over recent decades beauty standards have altered to place a larger importance on bronzed, sun-kissed skin. Changing leisure habits have made regular use of sunbeds acceptable, and a culturally agreed importance of boasting a year-round tan as a sign of health – and expendable wealth – mean that tanning is more pervasive than ever before.
Sporting a gorgeous glowing skin tone may make some among us feel better about our looks, but the potential health effects have been widely reported on. Specifically in the US, a recent study from dermatological platform Derma.plus showed that America has the 9th highest diagnoses of skin cancer worldwide. And at this time of year, it’s not just those who use artificial tanning methods who need to be careful to keep their skin protected.
Below are five simple ways to ensure you don’t over-expose your skin this summer, boosting your chances of keeping skin healthy.
1. Wear practical clothing…
A simple technique to avoid strong solar radiation is to wear sensible, skin-covering clothing, suitable for the environment around you. Loose-fitting linens are very popular in summer, providing adequate ventilation as well as cover from the sun’s rays. Likewise, don’t underestimate the power a simple hat can have in protecting your face from the sun’s heat. At the beach or swimming pool don’t assume these garments need to come off before you get into the water; UV rays are more intense when refracted through liquid, so stay covered for as long as required.
2. …And adequate sun protection!
The most popular kind of sun protection is still the classic, sunscreen. But make sure that you’re using the correct SPF for your skin type, as well as the right amount to actually protect the skin. To reach the SPF level on the bottle, adults should use at least 30-40ml sunscreen for the whole body. If you have sensitive skin, if its midsummer, of if you’re in a hotter country than your skin is ordinarily used to, be sure to raise your SPF factor accordingly, and always reapply several times throughout the day.
3. Allow skin to acclimatize
If your skin is not used to hot weather or intense sunlight be careful about subjecting it to these factors too quickly. Allow it time to become accustomed to more intense solar levels to avoid any nasty sensations or shocks. Keep sunbathing to shorter periods of time in the first instances, and avoid being in the sun too long during its peak, between 10am-4pm in the northern hemisphere.
4. Avoid sunbeds
Straight-up great advice; sunbeds should be avoided! It has been proven time and again that simulated solar radiation can drastically increase the risk of developing harmful diseases such as skin cancer. Such intense solar levels coupled with a lack of protection not only increase the risk of cancer but also age the skin faster than usual. Some among us use sunbeds ahead of holidays in an attempt to acclimatize skin by creating a base layer of tan. However, due to the intensity at which sunbeds work, this is not a sensible approach. A far better option is to follow the advice above and slowly acclimatize your skin whilst on location, timing exposure and ensuring skin is never exposed to levels which are too intense.
5. Take special precautions with children
As far as the usage of sunscreen on children’s skin goes, debates rage on regarding the age at which they can safely start to have it applied. Some experts state that babies under 6 months of age should never have it applied, whilst others argue children should never use it under the age of two. Whichever argument you’re more inclined to believe, most experts and parents agree that sunscreen should never be the first and only line of defence for children. Opt instead for physical barriers such as clothing, hats or umbrellas.