Care for your skin in the Summer Sun

children applying sunscreen

Growing up, I never used sunscreen. It just wasn’t something we were taught, especially because it was normal for my dad to turn a darker shade of brown after playing long summer soccer games in the intense and humid summer heat. I followed suit, also tanning nicely after being out in the sun for a solid 30 minutes.

My mother and her sisters on the other hand have extremely light complexions, leading to them turning into lobsters with just a few kisses of sunlight.  I laughed at my mother’s red nose and winced at my aunts painful looking neck line.

It wasn’t until I was a bit older and outside all the time in my aunt and uncle’s pools in the summer that my mom would tell them to make me put sun screen on – just in case.

The amount of melanin, which is a pigment chemical in peoples’ skins that causes them to have light/darker complexions, plays a direct part in skin cancer risk, states the Skin Cancer Foundation.  According to the website, melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the U.S. and although it accounts for less than two percent of all skin cancer cases, it is the cause of the majority of skin cancer deaths.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of developing melanoma varies between ethnicities with Caucasians developing it at a 3-5 times higher rate than Native Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 15-25 times higher than Latinos and African-Americans.  However, while a darker complexion allows some protection, the important bottom-line is that people of color can still develop melanoma.

As the largest organ on our bodies, it’s hard to ignore the look and feel of your skin over time. Regardless of your skin color or amount of melanin it contains, there are steps that you should be taking to ensure that your skin stays vibrant and prevent any future skin problems. Here are some considerations from the Mayo Clinic.

  1. Protect yourself from the sun: First and foremost, protecting yourself from the sun can help to prevent wrinkles, age spots, other skin problems and decrease your risk for skin cancer.
    • Remember to use sunscreen, applying at least a 15 SPF solution generously at least every two hours and every time just after swimming.
    • There’s nothing wrong with sitting in the shade when you’re outside! Avoid the sun when the rays are the strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
    • Wear light, breathable, protective clothing. My grandparents and people in Mexico, known for being farmers, always wore long sleeved white, cotton shirts to protect themselves from the burning sun. It’s still common in many agricultural communities. Wearing tightly woven long-sleeved shirts will allow for your skin to breathe while putting an extra layer between you at the sun rays.
  2. Don’t smoke. And if you do, quit. Smoking makes your skin look older because it narrows the tiny blood vessels in the skin, decreasing blood flow and making skin look paler. It also depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients important for healthy skin and its ability to heal from injury.
  3. Be gentle with your skin. Although your skin care process is good, it might take a toll on your skin. Here are a few things that you can do to keep it gentle:
    • Limit the amount of time you’re in hot water. Although people incorrectly may think long showers and baths help hydrate skin, both hot water and long showers/baths ironically remove natural oils from your skin and can dry it out. The best way to hydrate skin is to use a ‘soak and seal’ approach, bathing for five minutes or less, and using no more than warm water.  After bathing, then moisturize your skins as discussed below.
    • Avoid strong, ‘deodorant-type’ soaps and bubble baths. The more natural, the better. Detergents found in stronger soaps and bubble baths can also strip these natural oils from your skin. Use mild cleansers instead.
    • After washing or bathing yourself, do no rub the towels along your skin. Instead, pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that moisture stays in your skin.
    • When you shave, be sure to protect your skin by keeping it lubricated. Apply shaving cream or lotion before shaving and use clean sharp razors for a close shave.   After shaving, apply a moisturizer that contains at least a SPF 15 sun protection, especially to sun-exposed skin areas.
    • If you generally have dry skin to begin with, use a moisturizer that fits your skin type more often, again with at least a SPF 15 sun protection, especially to sun-exposed skin areas.
  4. Eat a healthy diet. By drinking plenty of water, you’ll keep your skin hydrated. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins with contains vitamins and natural anti-oxidants and essential fatty-acids that help to keep skin healthy.
  5. Manage stress. Did you know that uncontrolled stress may trigger breakouts and other skin problems? Stress, especially if it’s uncontrolled, makes your skin more sensitive. To promote healthy skin and a more balanced mental state, take steps to manage your stress.

Are there any routines that you do that helps your skin shine bright? Tell us in the comments below.

 

Last Updated: 5/21/2019

 

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