Having just returned from 11 days in the sun, I thought I'd share some of my 'bad sun care observations' from around the pool & walks along the beach, because despite ALL the information out there, it seems a lot of you are still getting the basics wrong and have terrible sun care habits. I was genuinely shocked by the amount of sun burn I saw during such a short time.
So in no particular order, here are some of the bad sun care habits I observed whilst on holiday and what you really should be doing to protect the health of your skin!
1. Apply sunscreen / sun protection in your hotel room BEFORE going down to the pool / beach. Especially if using chemical sunscreens. It takes between 15-30 minutes (depending on the product) for the active ingredients to settle into the skin and become active. Firstly, if you're applying them in direct sunlight, the effectiveness of the product is dramatically reduced. Furthermore, depending on skin type, you may even burn before your sun protection is active. Physical sunscreens are active instantly, however it's still advisable to apply before going in the sun, as applying in an air conditioned room means you're less likely to be sweating and the sunscreen is able to adhere to the skin better.
2. Don't forget to reapply! Most sunscreens will need reapplying every 2 hours to keep them effective. Not reapplying regularly enough is the same as not applying any at all. Personally, I use Ultrasun during summer holidays which is once-a-day application, simply because I'm very forgetful and don't want to risk being caught out. If you're like me and likely to forget, invest in a once-a-day application formulation, it will save you time and hassle in the long run.
3. Spray your skin not the air! I'm not a fan of sun protection in a spray formulation, except for my scalp. However, if you are then be aware when reapplying outdoors that the wind is going to blow the product pretty much everywhere except on your skin. Where it matters. Although if you'd listened to my previous 2 points and used a once-a-day and applied indoors, then this wouldn't be applicable!
4. Loose the "I go red then I go brown" mentality! The redness is inflammation, a sign that UV damage has been caused and it's your skins way of trying to repair the damage. It's also your first indicator that you should get out of the sun, quick! Yes your skin will develop a tan over the next coming days, however this would have happened without the pain and damage of burning! The tan comes from UV exposure that triggers melanin production in the skin, not the redness or burning from excessive UV exposure. If you burn, your skin will simply shed / peel, in a last ditch attempt of getting rid of the UV damaged skin cells, which could potentially turn cancerous. You're also likely to loose your tan much more quickly during the process, as your skin is desperately trying to repair the damage.
5. If you do burn, applying a thick layer of sunscreen will not help! (unless using a physical sunscreen). Chemical sunscreens work buy being IN the skin not ON the skin, so any additional product you apply is useless. You just look a white creamy mess! Do your skin a favour, cover up, stay out the sun and give your skin chance to repair the damage!
6. Don't rely on sunscreen alone! Especially during the hottest times of the day. Depending on your skin type, sunscreen alone may not be enough and good sun protection doesn't necessarily just mean SPF! Consider taking shade under a parasol or covering up with clothing, and always wear a hat to protect delicate scalp and face. I'm also a big believer in diet effecting our skins coping capacity with the sun. I take an astaxanthin & super oxide dismutase supplement from Viridian Nutrition called S.P.F. (Skin Pro Factors) and try to eat a diet rich in antioxidants so lots of bright coloured fruit & vegetables and salmon, all for additional support.
If a tan is your main priority while on holiday, firstly I think you need to check your priorities but secondly, you will achieve a safer, longer lasting tan if you put the health of your skin first and moderate the UV exposure.
Finally, I'm not saying don't enjoy the sun and stay out of it completely. A little bit of sun if beneficial for Vitamin D and Melatonin production (generally 15 minutes daily UV exposure is all that is needed. The amount of time will be increased if wearing sunscreens etc). What I am saying, is enjoy it responsibly and be safe because there is no enjoyment in sun burn, premature ageing or skin cancer! Remember, everything in moderation!!