While I think that a lot of the world waits impatiently for spring and summer to arrive and to hopefully bring warm and sunny days to cheer us up, it can be easy to forget how much damage can be done by those sunny days. I think we are all fairly aware of what the sun can do to you but that slips our mind when we are packing up for a weekend out or taking a half hour walk at lunch. These are six specific and easy ways to fight against sun damage and reduce your chances of excess sun exposure!
1) Specific Sunscreen
I am a big fan of buying specific sunscreens- body sunscreens for the body, face sunscreens for the face. I find that regular all-purpose sunscreen is too thick for my face on a regular basis, especially if I am putting it on before I’ve put on make-up- it tends to lead to days of breakouts. I am currently using the Clinique Pep Start SPF 50, and I am loving it! The 50ml bottle is $25 CAD, but for how much I use, I think I should get at least 2 months of use out of it. It is barely tinted, so if I don’t want to use concealer or foundation, I don’t have to, but if I do want tot do a full face of make up, it doesn’t feel caked on. (It is also foundation free, which is important to a lot of people!) I wear sunscreen every single day, unless I know that it is either 1) raining all day, or 2) I will be inside for the entire day. (With walking Agnes, it’s typically on every day.) Don’t be afraid to do your research, and invest a little in your sunscreen- it usually doesn’t hurt to spend a little bit more than the $5 bottle at the drugstore!
2) Loose Fitting Clothing
I don’t know what is popular with the kids nowadays but there always seems to be a great deal of summer clothing that is so tight you probably can’t breathe in it. Well, this is not the time for that- you are going to want loose fitting clothing made out of light weight materials that allow your skin (and body) to breathe. Not only can you end up with the very serious condition of heat stroke, you may also end up with heat rash- the rash of tiny red, itchy bumps when your skin gets overheated and sweaty and doesn’t have access to air. You may not be the most fashionable person ever, but if you can avoid getting physically sick from the sun, it will be worth it.
3) Sun Accessories
I know that people are very specific about what they wear- “I won’t wear hats because they give me hat hair”, and “I don’t like how big sunglasses look” are both things I hear all spring and summer. However, although you may not like those items on a style basis, they are integral to protecting yourself against sun damage. I don’t think that you need to spend a million dollars, but grab a large brimmed hat to wear outside and sunglasses for those bright days, as your scalp and eyes can suffer as much damage or more than your skin! I don’t know if you have ever had the distinctly uncomfortable experience of burning your scalp after a day in the sun, but if it happens to you once, you will make sure it never happens again. (You become oddly aware of your scalp from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, and it is AWFUL.) Worry less about style and worry more about protecting yourself!
4) UPF Clothing
UPF clothing is one of my favourite discoveries of the last year, all in thanks to Lilly Pulitzer! UPF clothing (ultraviolet protection factor) is specifically meant to provide protection against the sun’s UV rays, which regular fabric and clothing does not. (Yes, you can have sun damage through clothing.) Currently, most forms of UPF clothing is limited to athletic wear and swim wear, but it is slowly branching out more and more, and let’s be honest, a lot of the time we are in the sun, it’s either for casual outings or hitting the water. I like to buy UPF clothing that is long sleeved but has a white base to limit the heat that it holds- my two Lilly popovers are perfect for protecting my arms, decolletage, and neck without causing me to overheat. (This won’t hold true when it’s a million degrees out, but it also doesn’t have to be outrageously hot to have a high UV rating.) Do your skin a favour and make sure that you’ve got it covered with something that will protect it!
5) Stay Inside
Now I know that this isn’t what people want to here, but when there is an incredibly high UV rating (above 6.0), it is best to limit your time outside. If you are heading out during high risk periods, make sure that you take breaks to come inside or get into the shade- taking a 15 or 20 minute break every hour and a half to two hours won’t ruin your sunny day by a long stretch but it could go a long way to ensuring that you aren’t overloading on UV exposure! I would highly recommending avoiding specifically laying out in the sun with oodles of exposed skin for hours, because it usually isn’t clear for hours or even days (or sometimes even years) what kind of damage has been done. Bring an umbrella to the beach or take a short break from gardening outside, and remember to give your skin a break!
It’s time to give your skin, and the rest of your organs, what it really wants- moisture! Make sure that you are taking the time to use moisturisers as a part of your daily routine- ideally in the morning and at night- and stay hydrated. I know that it is really fun to drink your Starbucks iced coffee or frappacino for the Instagram shots, but they aren’t going to do much to keep you hydrated. It can be a difficult habit to remember in the beginning, but I would recommend drinking 1-2 cups of water while you are getting ready in the morning. (I have a pretty specific schedule where I am either walking or feeding Agnes, getting changed, or gathering things to leave, and none of those things are done by the water carafe in the kitchen…) Ditto for when you know you will be going out into the sun- don’t start the day off dehydrated, and give your body the water that it will need right off of the hop!
How do you protect yourself against the sun?