The sun is blessed with virtues aplenty. It helps regulate our sleep cycles, is an ultimate and freely available source of Vitamin D, and fills us up with energy thus enhancing a general feeling of well-being.
So, what harm can the sun cause?
Excessive sun exposure, especially during the harsh summer can lead to wrinkles, aging, thinning of the skin, uneven colour and last but not the least skin cancer. It can also dry up the skin of its fluid, thereby affecting the finesse of the texture. In fact, sunshine is considered the single biggest cause of visible aging.
However, the truth is one cannot really avoid the sun. All we can do is protect ourselves from its harmful effects with these tips:
- For starters, you should eat a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. They contain anti- oxidants that aid in reducing the damaging effects of sunlight.
- Avoid smoking as the cigarette smoke creates a huge number of skin-damaging molecules.
- Try to stay indoors between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Plan outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon.
- Always wear shades. Sunglasses protect the delicate skin around the eyes from wrinkles.
- Wear long-sleeve shirts & long pants. They offer the best protection from the sun’s burning rays.
- If you travel by a two-wheeler, cover your face and the back of your neck with a scarf and then put on your helmet.
And of course, no sun-care regime can ever be complete without the mainstay of summer – the SUNSCREEN. They are important as they contain ingredients that absorb UV wavelengths, protecting the skin from sun damage.
Tips on selecting and using the sunscreen right:
A. Choose the sunscreen meant for your skin type
- For normal-to-dry skin, look for a lotion or cream with hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid.
- If your skin is very dry, select a sunscreen with glycerin or aloe that will moisturize your skin while protecting it from the sun’s potentially damaging rays. Avoid sunscreens that contain alcohol, a skin-drying agent.
- If you have oily or acne-prone skin, look for an oil-free sunscreen fluid that dries quickly and won’t feel heavy on your skin or under your makeup.
- Those with sensitive skin should look for mineral sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are less likely than chemical ingredients to react with your skin and cause irritation.
B. SPF does matter
For the average Indian skin, a water-resistant sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection with a SPF factor between 15 to 25 is more than enough. Skins that are more sensitive to the sun and prone to dark patches (hyper-pigmentation) or severe burns need a sunscreen with high SPF of 30 and above. The higher the SPF, the oilier is the product. In cases of oily skin, they can worsen the skin by forming acne eruptions.
C. The right way to use sunscreen
- One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body. Adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on your body size.
- Be especially vigilant in treating thin-skin areas such as the nose, ears and, for sandal-wearers, the tops of feet. Applying sunscreen too thinly could minimize its ability to absorb or reflect UV light. According to a study, most people only apply 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen.
- Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors.
- Re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily according to the directions on the bottle.
Remember, preserving youthful skin is easier than trying to repair skin that has been abused for years. So, just follow these tips and have a fun time in the sun this summer!First Published: Apr 11, 2012 at 5:03 PM