Summer can present a huge conflict of interest. On one hand, we want nothing more than to get outside and enjoy the warmth of summer and all that offers us, but we also know that we need to take shelter from the sun for the health of our skin – and there’s not as much fun in that. Here are some expert tips that can help maximize both summer fun and sun safety.
Keep yourself covered: Covering up with wide brims, sunglasses, lightweight sleeves and cover-ups can keep you cool. More comfortably than anything else, however, finding peaceful respite in the shade or planning activities around lower sun hours, would be ideal for sun safety.
Apply early, and reapply: Choose mineral-based sunscreens with SPF of 30 or higher covering both UVA and UVB broad-spectrum rays. Most sunscreens work best when applied generously – covering all exposed skin thoroughly (not forgetting ears and toes) -- and before sun exposure, generally 15 minutes or so ahead. Take care to read your sunscreen labels though, as many call for reapplication every two hours, and some need to be reapplied after swimming or with greater frequency.
Nutrition for skin safety: Consider how nutritional elements may support the effect of your sunscreen. Omega-3 fatty acids such as those in fish oil, other marine oils, and seed oils; astaxanthin found in krill oil; lycopene found in naturally red-coloured foods like tomatoes; beta-carotene found in naturally orange-coloured foods, like carrots and sweet potatoes; and vitamin E found in naturally nutrient-rich foods like almonds, may reduce reddening of the skin when exposed to the sun. While nutrition and dietary supplements may support skin health, they should not replace sun screen. Additionally, as temperatures climb, drinking fluids and hydrating the skin with lotion may also help prevent sunburn.
In addition, leading authorities often caution that we not wait for summer sunshine and outdoor play to think of sunscreen. The UV rays from the sun can cause skin damage all year-round, including outdoor winter activities. Daily SPF application, nutritional considerations that could include dietary supplementation, and managing sun exposure through daily skin coverage, lotions or creams, are recommended.
Whether summer or year-round, getting outdoors can be filled with fun and healthful activities, and not a painful or dangerous sunburn. So set yourself up well with coverage, sunscreen and skin-worthy nutrition – and enjoy the outdoor seasons while they last.
Sies H, Stahl W. Nutritional Protection Against Skin Damage from Sunlight. Annual Review of Nutrition 2004. 24:173-200. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.24.012003.132320