It feels great to be out of the house enjoying the summer sun. Unfortunately, there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and when the good thing is the sun, the reality of sun damaged skin quickly “soaks” in. It can take as little as 15 minutes for UV rays to do real damage to your skin.
You may not feel it right away, but you’ll see and feel it later – in lines and wrinkles, in dry, dehydrated skin, in skin that looks older and more worn than it really should. But you don’t have to choose between time outdoors and sun damaged skin – you can go out and enjoy the summer if you take the right precautions.
Take a look at some of the most important ways that you can combat and prevent sun damaged skin this summer.
Hydrate From the Inside Out
Hydration is vital for your skin, and it’s not all about what you put on your skin. Hydration actually starts from the inside, with your water intake. Don’t let yourself run on an empty tank when you’re out in the sun, especially if you’re going to also be doing physical activities that will make you sweat, like jogging or exercising.
Drink water before you go out for a morning run or walk, and if you’re going to be out all day, make sure that you bring some water with you. Use a cooler or a thermos that retains cold temperatures to help keep the water cool enough to enjoy drinking it. Your skin will thank you for helping you keep it hydrated, and it’s good for the rest of your health as well.
Slather on the Sunscreen
Sunscreen isn’t something that you should only put on when you go to the beach. Even if you’re not going to be in a bathing suit, the parts of your body that are exposed – especially your face – are still vulnerable to the sun. So sunscreen should be a regular part of your daily skincare routine.
This is true all the time – you can get sunburned even when it’s not warm out – but it’s especially true in the summer. When it comes to putting on sunscreen, don’t use it sparingly. It’s not like some shampoos that will suds up and cleanse your whole head when you squeeze out just a small amount – sunscreen needs to be applied generously to do its job protecting you from UV rays.
Think of the small paper cups that hold condiments at fast-food restaurants – that’s about the amount of sunscreen that you want to apply to your body before leaving the house. And don’t forget to take the bottle with you! You’ll want to re-apply every 90 minutes or so.
Don’t Wait, Exfoliate
Dry heat, sand, salt water, sun… they can all be hard on your skin in more ways than one. It’s not unusual to come in from a beach day and feel your skin, only to discover it’s rougher and dryer than you remembered, even if you drank water, applied sunscreen, and regularly use a moisturizing lotion.
Dead skin cells can build up and create rough areas, especially when the skin starts to dry out. The best way to slough off dry skin is with an exfoliant. A loofah can do a great job of smoothing rough skin, but it’s also worth investing in a good exfoliating body wash that gives your skin the nutrients that it needs while leaving it smooth and silky. Exfoliate a few times a week for the best results.
Make It Moist
The dryer your skin is, the more easily the sun can damage it, and the more the damage will show. Hydrated skin stays more elastic, which means that it can bounce back more easily from a day at the beach. Sunscreen is great, but by itself, it’s not enough to keep your skin looking smooth and youthful.
You need a good daily moisturizer as well as sunscreen, especially on your face. Look for skincare products containing Vitamin C, antioxidants, and other moisturizing elements that can help to protect your skin from pollution, free radicals, and can even reverse sun damaged skin.
Many moisturizers have some sunscreen added to them, but you may still need sunscreen as well – a typical moisturizer with an SPF of 15 might not be enough if you’re going to spend a lot of time in the sun. But if you’re using a moisturizing foundation, when you apply sunscreen first, you’re liable to find that the foundation goes on smoother and more evenly because of the additional moisture of the sunscreen.
Time It Right
You don’t have to stay indoors during the summer months, but you also don’t have to be outdoors all of the time. Timing your outdoor excursions properly can help prevent sun damaged skin. The sun will be at its strongest between 10 am and 2 pm, and this is when you’re most likely to sustain damaging sunburns. So if you can stay indoors during this time period, you can feel safer about going out earlier or later.
If you like to get in a morning swim, try getting up early in the morning and swimming a few laps before breakfast. And if you’re looking at taking the kids out for a beach day, consider going in the afternoon, after lunch. If you wait until 2 pm, they’ll have eaten and had time to digest as well, so you won’t have to worry about cramps while swimming.
Spending time outdoors is great for your mental and physical health, and it can leave you feeling energized and ready to tackle whatever other projects that you’re working on this summer. Protecting your skin from the sun’s rays is also healthy, and on top of that, taking steps to stay hydrated, prevent sunburns, exfoliate, moisturize, and time your outings to avoid the harshest heat and UV rays, then you’ll also continue to look as good as you feel.