Eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of water and practicing a good daily skin care routine are always going to be your best bets for taking care of your skin. Here’s a few tips for when it comes to enjoying the sun and developing that coveted glow… without the harmful effects.
1. Get some D!
We’re talking about Vitamin D. It’s between April and October that your body is going to make its Vitamin D and pile up for the following winter. Exposing your arms and legs, 2 to 3 times a week, between 10-3pm is the most efficient way to produce Vitamin D through your skin.
Also, exposing your body to the sun is going to gradually increase your melanin levels that are very likely on the low side by now, especially if you live in the northern part of the US. Melanin is a natural sun protectant, especially against burning UVBs; and the darker your skin, the more melanin – and UVB protection - you have. Very fair skin individuals have a very limited capacity to produce melanin, and immediately burn. All other skin types make melanin when exposed to the sun and for those who are skin types 2, 3 or somehow 4, the trick is to know how long is too long.
You can check the Fitzpatrick scale to know your skin type, and you will soon be able to download our mobile app to determine your very own reasonable amount of time in the sun on a daily basis.
2. Antioxidants are your best friends
Unless you’re heading to the beach and intend to expose yourself to the sun for several hours, your daily sun exposure, which we call “incidental” because it’s sporadic and non-intentional, can perfectly be taken care of by applying the right compound of antioxidants on your face. Vitamin C (20% concentration is supposed to be ideal), when combined with Vitamin E, is a winner. Antioxidants fight free radicals, protect the skin from environmental aggressors such as pollutants, AC or UVs, and accelerate cells renewal. Vitamin C also has a whitening property and will help with hyperpigmentation (preventing and correcting).
3. Boost your hyaluronic acid levels
Incidental sun exposure is the main cause of premature aging: the UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper and damage the hyaluronic acid and keratin that sit in the dermis and ensure elasticity and firmness. Applying a serum with moisture-locker hyaluronic acid is a good way of preserving and accelerating the renewal of cells and moisture. Unless you have a specific skin condition which requires a dedicated treatment, a hyaluronic based serum should be all you need to hydrate and nourish your skin on a daily basis.
4. Beware of ingredients that increase photosensitivity
Retinoids (retinol) and AHA are among the ingredients that do not do well in the sun. You should avoid direct exposure to sun light immediately after applying such ingredients. Surprisingly, some sunscreens also contain ingredients that can increase photosensitivity.
Some oral medications can also be the cause of skin reactions. You can check the whole list of oral and topical ingredients here.
5. Exfoliation: less is more !
Exfoliation is the key to radiance and to a longer lasting tan. Exfoliation gently eliminates dead cells that accumulate on the skin’s surface. Mechanical exfoliants (facecloths, loofahs and dry body brushes) might be too harsh and literally exfoliate the skin away, so you should actually go for chemical exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy acid, beta-hydroxy acid, and retinoids. In the alpha-hydroxy acid category, glycolic or lactic acid are the best to treat and prevent sun damage. Choose a different strength according to the sensitivity of your skin.
In any case, 3 times a week is largely enough, and those of you with sensitive skin should not exfoliate for longer than 30 seconds.
6. What about SPF?
SPF sunscreen primarily blocks UVB rays that cause sun burns, and broad-spectrum SPF sunscreens are supposed to also block UVA. Bear in mind that SPF is active for up to 2 hours (hence the constant invitation to replenish), and its efficiency depends on how much you put on your skin. Clearly, moisturizers or make-up products that contain an SPF are difficult to understand since the layer on your skin is too thin, and since you’re not replenishing throughout the day.
Therefore, if you absolutely want or need to shield your skin from UVs (and prevent your body from making Vitamin D), apply broad-spectrum SPF every 2 hours, and make sure you apply a generous amount.
7. Nourish your skin from the inside
Research has found that certain key nutrients from your diet can boost your skin’s natural sun protection and prevent sun damage. Strawberries, grapes, almonds, green tea, leafy greens, tomatoes, watermelon, carrots and flax seeds have all proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Chomping down on such foods is a good way to perfect your daily skin care routine before stepping out in the sun!