It’s that time of the year when the sun is next to impossible to escape. The common misconception, especially in our part of the world is that the sun is nothing but a wrecking ball demolishing the skin one dark spot and free radical at a time. However, with a large majority of South Asians lacking the recommended levels of vitamin D, exposure to the sun is critical for maintaining good health and being of sound mind. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a commonly contracted disease in the northern hemisphere during the winter months when sun exposure is minimized. It is named so because the lack of sun exposure leads to clinical depression among those affected. Treatments involve tanning and prescription doses of Vitamin D. Vitamin D itself is not strictly a vitamin and is actually a hormone. Any hormonal imbalance can wreck havoc in your entire body resulting in anything from disruptive mood swings to the induction of malignant tumors. So, for all these reasons and more, it’s time to embrace the sun for its essential health benefits.
To strike a healthy balance of sun exposure, follow the tips below to get the best out of the sun:
Load up on antioxidants
Antioxidants have gained immense popularity and are rapidly becoming the main selling point for many a superfood. Almost all fruits (grapes and berries are especially rich in antioxidants) and veggies are antioxidant rich, as are nuts, fish, beans, green tea and whole grains. Consuming these foods enables your body to fight free radical damage, oxidation that leads to damaged cells and heightened aging of the skin.
Additionally, there are a variety of green tea supplements and pharmaceutical antioxidants available in the market. Xanthin Plus is a well known antioxidant supplement available at leading local pharmacies.
Hats and umbrellas are your friends
Sun light is practically omnipresent and you’ll be getting enough of it without directly exposing yourself, as if you were purposefully trying to get a tan. Cloudy days too can provide plenty of damaging exposure to UV rays. Protection using hats, umbrellas, full sleeves and sunglasses should be the first go to method for sun protection. Wide hats, ideally featuring a 4-inch brim or larger all around help protect your neck and your entire face. Carry an umbrella or camp out under one when on the beach or under direct sun for long periods.
Take extra precaution around the eyes
Sunglasses are imperative for protecting the delicate area around the eyes plus they also help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts that can eventually lead to blindness. Styles that wraparound or fit close around the eyes are best.
Sunscreen is essential
Sunscreen is essential. It helps you steer clear of nasties like dark spots, melanomas, spider veins and general discoloration. Before you head out to buy one though, remember to keep in mind to keep it natural and not loaded with chemicals that can actually add to the damage you’re looking to avoid. Toxic chemicals in sunscreen contribute substantially to damaging coral reefs in heavily populated beaches. Steer clear of the commonly used highly toxic chemicals oxybenzone and avobenzone which are found in more than half of commercially available sunscreens. At Conatural, we're always watchful of products and their environmental impact.
Here’s some do’s, don’ts and hows of using sunscreen:
If your skin would begin to burn in the sun within 10 minutes, using SPF 15 rated sunscreen will protect your skin for 15 X 10 = 150 minutes. There is only a slight difference between SPF’s 15 and 30 with SPF 15 blocking out 93% of UVB rays (ones that contribute to sunburn and consequently skin cancer) and SPF 30 blocking out only an additional minimal extra at 97%. So you don't need to go out on the SPF, a 15 or 30 should do in most scenarios just fine.
When and how
Applying sunscreen once you’ve dressed and outfitted your accessories means you’ll be missing out applying sunscreen evenly and everywhere. Slather on a shot glass worth for your entire body before you dress and keep another teaspoon worth for you face, neck and décolletage.
Apply your sunscreen prior to applying makeup.
Taking care of sunscreen before you dress makes for good time management too as it takes at least 20 minutes to soak up into the skin for effective protection. Stepping out immediately after application won't help anything.
SPF labeled cosmetics aren’t enough
It would take 7 times the amount of SPF labeled compact and 14 times the amount of SPF labeled liquid foundation to do the work of sunscreen. We know you don’t want that much gunk on your face.
Expiry dates matter
If you forgot about the sunscreen you bought last year because you never used it, don't revisit it. Buy a new one and keep all your products fresh and current. Especially if you're wise and consume paraben free products, you'll want to keep them up to date.
Greasy sunscreens are a thing of the past
Sunscreen is notorious for being heavy and greasy and leaving off white residue like cricketers on the field. The greasiness resulting in the application of sunscreen is caused by sweat and oil released by your skin. Opt for a water-resistant product if you’re in a warm place. Gels and sprays are great light non greasy alternatives that also leave no residue.
Don’t forget your head
Your scalp is also skin that is exposed to skin damage, don’t forget that. Use a spray on your part and hairline. Having a bad hair day? Solve both problems and sport some headgear.
And your lips
Take out the opportunity and reapply when necessary, a lip balm that’s SPF 15 or higher. Do so before applying your usual lipstick or gloss.