Sun Burn? Not This Year, We’ve Got You Covered

As with anything in life. You need to keep healthy and balanced. And your approach getting enough sunshine isn’t any different. If you hibernate away from the sun. It’s honestly just as bad as actively working towards a leathery and tanned complexion.

“Having regular, limited exposure to sunlight is not in itself unhealthy. In fact, we need sunlight exposure to activate our vitamin D levels. Furthermore, having regular exposure to small doses of sunlight conveys a limited measure of ‘immunity’ to bad sunburns and strengthens the skin,” says dermatologist and founder of the Skin Cancer Foundation in South Africa, Dr Marc Roscher.

So that’s great – but before you all go grab a deck chair and cocktail to enjoy outside, there are a few things you need to consider first.

1. Sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen

I realise you probably have awful childhood memories of gloopy, white sunscreen that made you sticky, uncomfortable and the day ended with you burnt anyway. But today scientists and medics have put the importance of proper sun care at the top of their . That finding a reputable brand of sunscreen isn’t too tricky.

Your sunscreen bottle should always have the following:

  • SPF 30 or higher
  • UVA filters such as Mexoryl or Tinosor
  • water-resistance
  • added antioxidants
  • UVA and UVB protection.

If you like to play a lot of outdoor sports – you should also try use a ‘sports sunscreen’ that won’t run or get sticky when you sweat. And for the hairier men out there, it could be worth a shot using alcohol sunscreen sprays as they are less irritating on hairy arms or scalp. In saying that, they’re often less effective too – so you may have to apply them more frequently.

So now, how much should you actually be using? Well, grab a shot glass and I’ll tell you (I’m not kidding). One of the most basic guidelines for determining how much sunscreen you should be applying every day is to use a shot glass’s worth for your whole body. That said, if you have high sun exposure during the day, for example from playing sports or going to the beach, your should be a lot more rigorous with your reapplication than if you’re sitting behind a desk.

“Despite sunscreens indicating that you should reapply after two hours. When going swimming or sweating. Water-resistant sunscreens must be applied after 40 minutes and ‘very water-resistant’ sunscreens after 80 minutes,”shares South African dermatologist, Dr Pholile Mpofu.

2. Avoid more damage

Not only is sun damage a cause for rapid skin ageing, but more seriously, it is the main risk for developing skin cancer. “Caucasians develop features of damage, including sun spots, liver spots, wrinkles and more. Once this damage occurs, they are also more prone to skin cancers,” says Roscher.

However, this does not mean that people with darker skin tones are out of the woods… “Dark-skinned individuals have what is called ‘delayed sun damage’. Occurring up to 3-12 hours after exposure, in melanin containing skin cells. This is responsible for up to 50% of sun damage to the skin,” adds Mpofu.

A few things you can do to prevent any further damage from happening include:

1. Wear a rash vest at the beach: Rash vests are very efficient at safely warding off sun damage. And as an added bonus, they feel like a second skin when you put them on.

2. Invest in an antioxidant serum: Although they can be rather costly, and usually only available from skin care experts. Antioxidant serums have great value as they essentially double up your sun protection when used with sunscreen.

3. Switch to cosmeceuticals: The benefit of using cosmeceuticals as part of your daily routine is that most products  contain a high SPF as well as UVA and free radical protection. So instead of having to reapply sunscreen on your face throughout the day. You can simply touch up your make-up instead.

4. Avoid sunbeds: Using  sunbed at least once a month increases your risk of skin cancer by 55%, and this increases after the age of 20. Your best bet is to apply spray on or self tans.

5. Plan your day around peak sun hours: Remember that UV intensity is determined by the angle of the rays and not temperature. So try to plan your day and avoid being outdoors as much as possible between 10am and 4pm.

6. Check your moles: It’s not the most flattering task. But doing regular mole checks after showering is crucial for monitoring any skin cancer developments.

3. You’re burnt… now what?

Let’s face it – you often do quite well at protecting yourself from the sun. But every now and then, you’ll fall asleep on your deck chair whilst reading. Or even get bizarre sunburn marks because you were trying to avoid getting sunscreen on your outfit, so you were ‘selective’ with your application. Now we may not be condoning this – but it happens and you need to know how to get some relief and help your skin heal in the best possible way. Here are a couple of my favourite techniques:

1. Start by taking a tepid bath to soothe the pain and inflammation. You can then add one or two natural ingredients that promote healing, such as:

– One cup of apple cider vinegar to help balance the pH your of sunburn.
– One cup of blended oats to reduce itchiness.
– A few drops of lavender or chamomile essential oil to relieve some of the stinging.

2. Keep hydrated, no matter what. When your skin is dry and dehydrated from a burn, it’s essential to replace the lost body fluids by getting enough water to help your skin heal from sunburn faster.

3. Use lotions containing Aloe Vera – it’s a brilliant ingredient for soothing and moisturising sunburnt skin. Better yet, certain products designed specifically for sunburn that contain aloe, also contain a mild anaesthetic called lidocaine that can help relieve sunburn pain.

If you’d prefer to go through your pantry to find a natural skin soother you can apply directly to your sunburn, your best bets include: cool (not cold) milk or plain yoghurt; cucumber slices; cornstarch and water or even some freshly brewed, cooled tea.

So all that’s left now is to grab your shades and hat and enjoy the warmth! Click here to find out why Harvard Health says it’s important to get a little bit of sun – and how it can benefit your health.