Skincare for Everyone Under the Sunby Jo W. on Jun, 01 2012
It’s summer, and you know what that means: an endless supply of sunshine! Most of you will dance with joy, soak up rays on the beach, frolic in sunlit fields, hike in broad daylight, or stalk ice cream trucks while running on hot cement. No matter what you do, it is inevitable that you will get that sun-kissed glow of the much-desired summer tan.
Meanwhile, if you’re a fair-skinned vampire (like me!) who suffers heliophobia and/or varying degrees of photosensitivity, you’re in the minority. Nothing to be ashamed about. Longer hours of daylight is just an inconvenience, especially because sun exposure is one of our skin’s most nefarious antagonists. Of course, small doses are necessary for vitamin D (dietary supplements can also help). With too much exposure, our skin becomes more vulnerable to blisters, wrinkles, moles, and, in the most severe case, skin cancer. So, here is a guide for taking care of your skin, whether if you have sensitive pale skin you need to keep healthy, or if you decide that maybe baking in the sun or going to tanning salons isn’t such a good idea after all.
1. Stay indoors between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM
These tend to be the hours when sunlight is at its strongest, so it is best to stay indoors. If you do have to go outdoors, your options are to seek shade or, my next advice…
2. Use sunscreen of at least SPF 30
This is a tip that most people don’t follow. There are plenty of reasons people are hesitant to slather their skin with sunscreen: “It feels so greasy!” or “I’m only outside for ten minutes!” or “It’s so inconvenient!” However, the damages caused by skin exposure build up over time. Not wearing sunscreen is like going into a battlefield without an armor. Not only are you more susceptible to sunburns, you are more vulnerable to premature aging, complete with wrinkles and blemishes.
The reason I recommend SPF (stands for sun protection factor) 30 and not anything lower is because an SPF 30 or higher is pretty strong, and will provide more protection. In addition, look for sunscreen that is labelled “broad spectrum.” Many sunscreens will only protect you from UVB (the B stands for “burning”) rays, but a lot of sunscreens will NOT protect you from UVA (A stands for “aging”) rays.
If you are outside for long hours, it is wise to reapply at least every two hours. If you are swimming, or partake in any other water-related activities, reapply more often. Take note that there is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen. No sunscreen is truly waterproof, as it all eventually washes off (you wouldn’t want it to stick to your skin forever, would you?).
3. Drink lots of water
Staying hydrated with keep your skin cells healthy! When you are dehydrated, it’s not just your throat that’s parched. Your skin is thinner and more likely to dry out – this can lead to more wrinkles in the future. And not just in the far future. Probably within a decade or two.
4. You are what you eat
Fruits and vegetables are full of delicious vitamins and antioxidants! The antioxidants help counteract the free radicals that are accumulated in one’s body. Free radicals, which contribute to the aging process, are the by-products of our normal bodily functions, and without supplies of antioxidants, the amount of free radicals can exceed our body’s ability to fight them off. I like to think of free radicals and antioxidants as two basketball teams: one should outnumber the other in order to have a better advantage in winning. Free radicals can also add up due to exposure to pollution, second-hand smoke, radiation, pesticides, etc.
As paraphrased from an article titled “Oxidants, Antioxidants, and the Degenerative Disease of Aging” by MCB professor Bruce Ames, fruits and vegetables are the main source of antioxidants in the diet. They are also, in general, the richest and most convenient source of antioxidants. Also, now that it’s summer, it’s the season of watermelons! Why not go and eat them all up while they’re still in season?
Exercise is not just beneficial for your waistline. When exercising, you increase the rate of blood flow throughout your body, therefore increasing circulation of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells.
Bonus: You lower your stress levels. Exercising is pretty much a triple whammy! It’s good for your waistline, your skin, and your stress level.
6. Don’t Smoke
Do you know how much damage one cigarette can do to your skin? Cigarette smoke breaks down the collagen in your skin, and also truncates the blood flow that helps keep your skin looking vibrant and young. You’re pretty much ASKING for wrinkles and sallow, saggy skin just by smoking.
The good news? The sooner you quit smoking, the sooner your skin can be repaired.
7. Wash your face every night
You skin builds up residue throughout the day, whether in be from sweat, makeup, pollution, or just plain old sebum produced from your pores (sebum is oil that your skin naturally produces to keep it from drying out). If you neglect this nightly cleansing, then all the junk on your skin leads to acne. Not to mention the idea of having to go to bed with greasy skin is revolting.
There’s a reason why the phrases “sleeping beauty” and “beauty sleep” exist. It’s because we can actually be more attractive just by getting adequate sleep! According to the article “You Are Not Sleeping Enough,” written by Nick Anastasiades in the Spring 2012 issue of Caliber (the one with AndDrop! on the cover), sleep deprivation exposes us to foreign infections, threatens our health, and therefore makes us look unattractive (and according to a survey in this article, survey-takers rated the sleep-deprived individuals as less attractive than the ones who had adequate sleep). Our skin becomes duller from lack of sleep. So go to bed! When you’re rested, so will your skin, and it will show.
Note: All of these tips do not apply to just summer. Yes, even sunscreen is beneficial during winter and cloudy days, because clouds barely filter sunshine, and if you live somewhere snowy over winter breaks, sunlight reflects off of snow.
Further Recommended Readings: