how to look after your skin in the sun

Summer is almost upon us, as are the wonderful warming summer rays of sunshine. However, the message has become a little unclear in recent years – how do we look after our skin in the sun? How do we ensure we still get enough time in the sun to reach our vitamin D requirements, whilst also protecting our skin from damage – at best accelerating aging, and at worst skin cancer?

There’s a fine line to walk. The jury is still out on how much sun you need to keep your vitamin D stocks up as it varies according to skin tone, cloud cover, strength of the sun, and more. However, approximately 5-30 minutes between 10am and 3pm, at least twice per week, to face, arms and legs should be enough. So how do we look after our skin the rest of the time?

Know Your UVA from your UVB

Not all sunlight is created equally. It’s made up of different elements, and those elements have different effects on our skin. UVA gets in deep and is the baddie for aging. UVB hits the upper layers and is the baddie for sunburn and potentially skin cancer. Sunscreens are labelled according to their barrier level against each of these types, so look carefully. Just as all sunlight is not created equally, neither are all sunscreens. However, it is essential that sunscreen is only used as one part of your summer skin routine. You should never rely on it alone.

The British Association of Dermatologists has an excellent factsheet to help your understand the different types of sunscreen.

Become a Shade Lover

We’ve developed a love for soaking up the rays, but this isn’t always the most sensible approach to sun exposure, particularly in the summer months. Ideally, you should stay out of the sun between 10am and 3pm which is the most damaging time during this period.  

Style for Sunshine

Here’s an excuse to invest some time and effort into your wardrobe once more. Whilst staying in the shade is sensible, and sunscreen can help when that’s not possible, your best line of defence is protective clothing over your skin. This doesn’t mean you need to be dressed like a toddler in top to toe UV swim-wear, but do consider UV absorbing clothing such as the wide range from Cotswold Outdoors. However, lightweight, light coloured, loose natural fabric clothing is also ideal.

Don’t forget to round off your sun-savvy look with a wide-brimmed hat and high-quality UV protecting sunglasses.

Hydrate and Nourish

With sun exposure in the summer it is essential to keep hydrated. Dehydrated skin is more prone to dryness, wrinkles, and even spots. Keep your water intake up, especially when you are spending time in the sun. Similarly, healthy skin comes from a skin-friendly diet all year round. Our top contenders for a beautiful skin diet include olive oil, nuts, salmon, mackerel and other oily fish, tomatoes, berries, and green leafy vegetables.

Be Kind

Give your skin a break! It’s not going to thank you for pounding it with damaging rays, or slathering on the sunscreen continually. Make sure you plan summer days where you’re not relentlessly exposing yourself to sunshine or sunscreen. If you wear it, have time without make-up to allow your skin a chance to breathe and a break from chemical cosmetics. After swimming, especially in chlorinated pools, rinse in fresh water to prevent the harsh drying effects.

Lastly, keep an eye on your skin. Examine moles and check them for signs of change. If you’re in doubt, do pay your GP a quick visit.

Have fun in the sun! But do so in a way that is kind to your skin