Despite the very damp, yucky Spring we’ve been having, I promise you sunny days are ahead. This might have you thinking about what you can do to protect your skin when those days come… hold up. If you haven’t been using sunscreen this whole time you and I need to have a little chat.
I know what you’re thinking: “It’s not even sunny out, my skin will be fine.”
Unfortunately, that is just not quite how it works. The clouds may stop a majority of the rays that make their way down to us on earth, but not all of them and not the most harmful ones. So, if you’re someone who cares about premature aging and wrinkles, you need to start incorporating sunscreen into your skin regime… like yesterday.
But wrinkles aren’t the only thing the sun will do to damage your skin. Even with the low levels of UVA and UVB present on cloudy days, dark spots can still make their way onto the surface of your skin. Not everyone is susceptible to dark spots, but do you really want to find out if you are? The best way to protect yourself is to get some sunscreen and make sure all exposed areas are either covered with clothing or sun block.
And, of course, there is always the cancer risk you should be at least a little concerned about. Oftentimes, people brush off using sunscreen because they don’t feel that the risk of melanoma is that great or that it is a super treatable cancer so it’s not that big of deal. However, most people don’t get their skin checked often enough or drag their feet on getting moles checked out that it turns into a bigger problem than they ever anticipated.
Melanoma is a cancer that can spread (most commonly to the lungs), and some people are more likely to get it than others. But why would you even risk such a preventable disease? The most common places it is found is neck, shoulders and face, because those are the areas least likely to be covered on a sunny day. It’s also very commonly found on the left arm, as many people don’t realize that the sun can still burn them through a window… even while driving! You’re best bet is to make sure you put on sunscreen anytime you plan on leaving your house on a sunny day.
Sun damage also compromises the integrity of your skin. It causes a thinning effect, making your skin extra vulnerable to scarring and further environmental damage. It also makes your skin more likely to scar from scratches or cuts. Your skin’s ability to ‘bounce back’ after dehydration and damage will be seriously reduced, and can lead to major unevenness down the road.
Another less talked about side effect of sun damage is the number it does on your immune system. I think oftentimes we forget that our skin is the first line of defence against viruses and sickness, so when it is damaged, we can get sick more often and for longer periods of time. Your best bet is so make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C and water, and make sure that you are protecting your body’s largest organ from the sun!
Now, some people will argue that the sun is a great source of Vitamin D, and it is! However, that doesn’t mean that you should skip out on the sunscreen. Sun block will block the UVA and UVB rays, but still give you the full benefit of Vitamin D. There are also lots of great Vitamin D supplements on the market that can give you the boost you need.
The sun is also great for helping to clear up acne, so if you’re someone who is acne prone you may be hesitant to smear lotion all over your face. Spend some time doing research on a few different brands of facial sunscreen. You may be surprised to learn that there are tons of great options out there for you.
But what should you do if you end up with a burn? Well, you want to make sure you boost your immune system with lots of water and vitamin C so you don’t get sick on top of your burn. Aloe Vera is hugely helpful in providing relief from sunburn and can be frozen into cubes for extra comfort. You can also eat orange foods - they contain lots of skin loving vitamins and minerals that will help you counteract the damage done by the sun. Some great skin foods include: pumpkin, turkey and cinnamon. Lastly, make sure you moisturize often and avoid picking if you do start to flake. The more you moisturize with lotion and drinking lots of water, the less likely it is you will peel.
So, get out there and enjoy that sunshine! Just make sure you’re protected from the rays!