Summer is here and spending time in the sun is not only enjoyable but also has health-giving properties. Sunlight stimulates vitamin D production in the skin, helps regulate our body clock, improving our sleep and also boosts energy, mood and general wellbeing. Staying safe in the sun however, is vitally important to protect your skin from its damaging and ageing effects. Premature ageing, sunburn and prickly heat are amongst the problems if you don’t, as well as increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Here are some of the top summer skincare myths!
Wearing SPF means you won’t get a tan – FALSE!
Unless you are someone who doesn’t tan very easily in the first place and you wear total sunblock, you will still get a tan while wearing sunscreen. However, you may wish to re-think how much of a tan you really want. While many of us associate a tan with looking healthy, it is actually a sign that skin has been damaged and is trying to protect itself from further damage. A light sun-kissed glow is therefore a much healthier look to aim for and if you want to achieve a deeper colour you can always fake it.
Summer skincare is only about what you put on your skin – FALSE!
Feeding your skin from the inside is also important. Antioxidants act in a similar (but weaker) way to sunscreen – when the sun’s rays hit the skin, antioxidants in the body actually move up and form a protective shield like sunscreen! 1-3 For example lycopene (in tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, red peppers and mango), has been shown to reduce skin reddening by 48% following exposure to UV light.4 Other protective nutrients are beta-carotene found in carrots, cantaloupe melon, sweet potato, spinach and kale and pomegranates are also great. The effects are not instant, so this is something to build up several weeks before you go on holiday and is of course NEVER a substitute for wearing sunscreen.
You don’t need sun protection on cloudy days – FALSE!
80% of UV radiation penetrates through clouds, so this is absolutely untrue. In fact, it is important to wear SPF protection on your face all year round to prevent UV rays, the biggest cause of skin damage, causing premature ageing. You should be using a face cream with at least SPF 15 all year and BB creams with SPF can be used as an extra layer of protection and to even out complexion. When you go in the sun, you will also need a specific sunscreen, as face creams tend to be less hardwearing and easily rub, sweat or wash off.
Sun Protection is just for the face and body – FALSE!
It is also important to protect your hair, eyes and lips, which are all delicate and vulnerable to damage. If your hair is coloured this is especially important and you may wish to purchase a sunscreen for hair and wear a hat in the sun. SPF eye creams and lip balms are also a good idea as the skin is different in these areas and therefore requires different products. It is also important to always wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection to filter out both UVA and UVB rays. Eating foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin can also help protect the retina from UV damage – the best sources are kale, spinach, peas, cos lettuce and egg yolk.
The higher the SPF, the longer you can stay in the sun – FALSE!
SPF is not a measure of how long the cream protects you for, but the level at which it protects you. SPF also only applies to the level of protection from UVB, so it important to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that also protects from UVA rays. Even if you wear a high SPF, you still need to limit your exposure and avoid the middle part of the day, when the sun is strongest.
It is better for health to completely avoid the sun – FALSE!
We need some safe sun exposure for vitamin D production to be stimulated in the skin –in fact 90% of our total vitamin D comes from the action of sunlight on the skin, with only 10% coming from diet. Sunlight is also important for regulating our circadian rhythms or body clock, which affects many aspects of health including our sleep-wake cycle. Being indoors all day in artificially lit buildings in combination with over-exposure to blue light from screens at night has really disrupted our natural bodyclocks and natural sunlight is one of the best ways to reset this. If you are concerned about getting enough vitamin D and the other benefits from the sun, about 15-20 minutes per day of sun exposure to uncovered skin is enough to meet requirements – stick to mornings and late afternoon though.
Exfoliating will rub off your tan – FALSE!
Sun exposure stimulates the production of melanin in the skin, by cells called melanocytes. This is the dark pigment that gives the characteristic colour of a tan. Gentle weekly exfoliating will remove dead skin cells from the very surface of your skin, but some melanin will also be present in the layers below. In fact, the dead skin cells can make skin look dull so can actually detract from your tan. Just limit to once a week and using gentle products. It is also essential to keep skin well moisturised to prolong your tan.
Always wear SPF of at least 30 with high UVA protection, apply generously and regularly over the day when in the sun
Beauty & Go SUMMER SKIN is a great way to build up your skin’s natural defences before you go in the sun, protect skin while you are in the sun and provide restorative benefits following sun exposure
Avoid sunbathing between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest
Wear protective clothing, such as a hat and sunglasses to protect the face and eyes further
Stay hydrated – as well as keeping your skin hydrated this will help prevent dehydration, which is more common when it’s hot.