If you’re anything like me and grew up about 5 minutes away from the beach you carry some kind of primal longing for long hot summer days, sand and salty ocean air. We all know that sunshine makes us feel good and a nice-looking tan has long been considered a must-have to complement one’s summer wardrobe.
Yet the sun can cause major damage to the skin so in this article we are going to explore some ways to look after our skin while still enjoying sunshine, the beach and all the good things that summer has to offer.
Sun and the Skin
Sun exposure is responsible for many skin changes that we think of as a normal part of the ageing process. Apart from sunburn which is immediately obvious, even short-term exposure to UV rays will gradually damage the elastin fibres in the skin, causing it to sag, loose elasticity and tear more easily. Premature wrinkles, uneven pigmentation and sun spots are also unwanted side effects of spending too much time in the sun.
UV rays come in two types: UVA rays are less intense but far more prevalent. They occur during all daylight hours even on cloudy days. They penetrate the deeper layers of skin and are the main culprits for causing wrinkles and sun spots.
UVB rays are less prevalent and their intensity varies according to geographic location, season and daily weather conditions. They are responsible for damage to the surface layers of skin and cause the redness and pain we normally associate with sunburn.
Sunshine and Vitamin D
We all need to spend time outdoors daily as this is the only way that our bodies can produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient needed for bone and immune system health among many other reasons. Until recently, vitamin D deficiency was believed to be a problem only for those living in countries with long winters and few daylight hours. This is not the case and recent studies show that even many Australians are affected by low levels of vitamin D despite ample opportunities for sun exposure. Our sedentary mostly indoor lifestyles certainly play a part in this, but the overall reasons are more complex and likely to involve other genetic, metabolic and environmental factors as well. This calls for a sensible approach to spending time outdoors during the summer months: make the most of the warm weather in the morning or early evening, but do not ignore traditional advice about the use of sunscreen and staying indoors during certain times of the day.
It’s good to remember that our bodies were designed to cope with a range of weather conditions and the skin is quite resilient, but we have to provide it with the right building blocks in order to stay healthy and repair itself when needed.
Skin care tips for summer