Okay, the scary news… it takes only ten minutes for the sun to start aging your skin. Now, the fun part: we’re giving you all the info you need to get your glow on in a safe way.
1. Tanning Beds Do Not Give You Any Of The Sun’s Health Benefits.
Tanning salons love to peddle the myth that you can get a helping of feel-good vitamin D with a ‘healthy’ tan. Beware because it’s the wrong UV— tanning beds pump out huge amounts of UVA and virtually no UVB (which stimulates vitamin D), and can increase your risk of skin cancer by 75 per cent. Get your tan from a bottle or from gentle sun exposure, and your vitamin D from a supplement.
2. Your skin reaches a tanning cut-off point after about two hours.
You know the plan where you hit the sand for a solid six hours of tanning time? Pointless. In fact, your skin will reach a point each day when it physically can’t produce any more melanin, the tanning pigment. Only one of our outer skin cells are melanocytes (melanin-producing cells), so it takes time for them to transfer melanin to other cells, giving a deep, even tan. After your cut-off point (which may be 2-3 hours depending on the individual), all you’re doing is subjecting yourself to the risk of UV damage and burning. Taking breaks from the sun will reduce UV intensity and your sunburn risk.
3. If you care about your skin, SPF isn’t enough.
Even with consistently applied sunscreen, some pesky UV light will get through. The solution? Add a secondary layer of protection in the form of daily antioxidants, which help neutralise nasty free radicals (the damaging molecules unleashed by overexposure to the sun).
Invest in a good-quality antioxidant facial serum with Vitamins C like Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C+ Serum, $155. For your body, try IDS Lyco-White Oral Skin Supplement, $168, a supplement for long-lasting protection from the inside—so it can’t be washed off. Ideally, you should start taking them well before your vacation as it can take up to 12 weeks for the antioxidants to reach the skin’s surface.
4. BB creams can give a false sense of security.
Much as we love our BBs, you can’t dab on a thin layer in the morning and expect to be protected from the sun all day. Most are SPF 15, which is likely to wear off after a couple of hours. Use at least one with SPF 30 broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) facial sun-protection product labeled non-comedogenic (non-skin-clogging). This won’t make you break out: Chanel Complete Correction SPF50 CC Cream.
5. Sand, sun and sea are a killer combo.
Your skin may start to burn while you’re waiting to dry off, or the sand could have rubbed away your suncare. Shiseido Perfect UV Protector SPF 50+ PA++++ Wet Force, can be reapplied onto wet skin for increased protection. Plus, studies say we’re less likely to slather on cream when we’re hot, so reach for First Aid Beauty Vitamin Hydrating Mist, $25, to cool off.
6. Lunch can double your sun protection.
Certain sun-friendly foods are known to increase lycopene, the skin’s own SPF. An antioxidant found in tomatoes, as well as other red and orange fruits and vegetables, it can boost your own protection by a whopping 33 per cent. One of the best sources is tomato paste, so dig into those pastas and pizzas! Or sip green tea while grabbing sushi—it contains antioxidants called polyphenols. Fish, rich in omega-3, and dark chocolate, packed with flavonoids can also help protect.
7. Going Fake Can Help Stop the Burn.
Going from pasty to bronze may drive you to bake yourself for eight hours straight. But taking time to fake-tan just before you jet off can ease that rookie mistake. Try the Sally Hansen Airbrush Sun. It lasts for two weeks.
8. Sleeping in is good for your skin.
The sun’s rays are most intense—and therefore the risk of skin damage peaks—between 11 a.m. and 3 pm, so dodging these danger hours makes sense.
9. UVA protection is as, or even more important than UVB.
The SPF rating of a product relates to its protection against UVB rays, which account for about 10 per cent of the UV radiation we receive. UVA rays make up the rest, and these reach the deeper levels of the skin, causing long-term damage. For all-around protection you need a broad-spectrum product with at least a PA+++ rating. We find that Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Body Cream, $48, and Kenzoki White Blossom Delicate UV Shield, $65 both work well.
10. Most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen to get the full SPF promised.
We’re all guilty of sometimes half-heartedly slapping on our sun cream. In fact, most of us apply only 25-30 per cent of the correct amount. Aim for about a shot-glass full to cover your body, and a 50 cent-size blob for your face—it should feel like slightly more than your normal body lotion. Also, right-handed people tend to apply more on their left arm than to their right, and vice versa for left-handers. Don’t end up lopsided!
Skin SOS: Dermatologist Leyda Elizabeth Bowes, MD, shares some important info.
As many people have skin cancer as have breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers combined. What’s scarier? When people get diagnosed with melanoma, it is usually in an advanced stage, which means a lowered survival rate.
What to Look For
Non-melanoma skin cancer appears frequently on our faces and necks. It looks like pearly, pink growth, sometimes with tiny red vessels on the surface. More aggressive melanomas commonly appear on legs, but there’s also a risk of it appearing on the palms of hands, the soles of feet and inside the mouth and lips. It can develop from an existing mole that changes colour, increases size, and bleeds. Or, it may be a new growth with dark, irregular pigmentation or borders. New growths can also be colourless. Be sure to check your moles (especially on your scalp and between your toes, two often-forgotten spots). Visit a derm for a head-to-toe body check once a year.
Now go get yourself some sunscreen! Learn more about how and when to apply…
By Elizabeth Lee, Cosmo, July 2015