Summer, Sun and Skin! …so happy together!

Summer is fast approaching!  I thought I’d share some quick tips to help you protect your skin!  Don’t forget your skin is actually your largest organ…so don’t neglect it!  Hope you have lots of safe fun in the sun this summer!  =)

SPF…what does it mean?  SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  It measures sunscreen’s effectiveness at protecting your skin from UVB wavelengths (UVBs cause the most skin damage…we can thank UVBs for our wrinkles, dark spots, etc.).  SPF compares the time you can be exposed to UVBs before the first signs of redness appear on your skin USING sunscreen vs. NOT USING sunscreen.  Example: Say you would normally start to burn after 10 minutes in the sun without sunscreen.  You are smart and apply your SPF 30 sunscreen so you can now expect to start burning after 300 minutes instead.  You can now stay in the sun 30 times longer than normal without looking like a lobster. Note: Reapplying sunscreen does not extend your safe exposure time.  It simply replenishes what you have washed or sweated off.

Fun in the Sun Tips:

  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go out into the sun.
  • Apply sunscreen LIBERALLY….most people only use about half the amount of sunscreen they should.  If your sunscreen is expiring on you then you are using it wrong.  Be especially careful with the spray types as its easy to miss spots…the air doesn’t burn and lots of the spray ends up blown away.  (I do like the spray for the part line in your hair).
  • PROTECT YOUR BABIES!  SUN EXPOSURE AND BURNS DURING CHILDHOOD INCREASE YOUR RISK OF SKIN CANCER LATER IN LIFE!!!  I’m not a fan of all caps, but this one deserves it.  They make baby sunscreen products that are generally safe to use after 6 months of age.  Many baby bathing suits and rash guards also contain UV protection in the material (look at the tags).  They even sell baby tents to shade your bundle of joy!
  • Buy waterproof sunscreen if you will be in the water or sweating.
  • Reapply sunscreen LIBERALLY every 2 hours and after swimming/sweating/toweling off.
  • Wear sunscreen on cloudy days, too!
  • Don’t forget your ears, feet, and toes.
  • Don’t forget your lips.  Buy an SPF lip balm.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Wear a large brimmed hat to protect your head and face.
  • Dark loose fitting clothing protects better than light tight fitting clothing.
  • The sun is most intense between 10 AM and 4 PM.  If your shadow is shorter than your height, you are probably going to burn.
  • If your skin rarely burns use SPF 2-12.
  • If you burn easy but tan some use SPF 12-30.
  • If you burn super easy and never tan stick with SPF 30 and higher.
  • Don’t forget that some medications can increase your sensitivity to the sun and increase your risk of burning.  Ask your pharmacist if you are unsure.

After the Burn:

  • Apply cool compresses or take a cool bath.
  • Take an over the counter NSAID (aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen) during the first 24 hours to decrease inflammation and help with pain.  (Make sure they don’t interact with other medications you may be taking.)
  • Apply aloe.  Aloe straight from the plant is best.  Alcohol free aloe is another option (it is usually clear in color).
  • Pain relieving sprays like Solarcaine and Dermoplast can relieve pain but are limited as they only help for 15-45 minutes on average.  This may be long enough to help you fall asleep though.
  • Take an oral antihistamine for itching (may cause drowsiness).
  • After 48 hours apply cocoa butter to rehydrate.
  • See medical attention if your burn blisters or you have a fever or confusion.
  • Learn your lesson for next time and wear sunscreen!

I hope you have a safe and super fun summer!  If you absolutely have to be tan to be happy consider a spray tan or tanning lotions as a safe alternative to give you that sun kissed glow.  Personally, I have learned to embrace my pale skin and encourage you to do the same.  I’d rather be pale now and less wrinkled later.  Besides, pale is in.  I mean look at Edward Cullen…hello!?  =P