We may love our tans, but sun exposure could cause a lot of problems if you’re not careful! To all of our beach bum hearts, unfortunately there is no such thing as a safe or base tan. So, we’re definitely taking care of our skin under the blazing hot sun this summer! Luckily, Dr. Prystowsky gave us her top summer skincare tips.
To Tan or Not to Tan, That Is the Question
While tanning is on a lot of summer to-do lists, it’s something you might highly want to reconsider. Dr. Prystowsky says, “UVA and UVB radiation penetrate skin cells, forming free radicals that can cause carcinogenic damage. That means that, if you constantly expose yourself to UV radiation and free radicals, you are increasing your chances of premature aging and skin cancer.” Ick!
Tanning beds are even worse than outdoor tanning! Tanning beds are particularly dangerous because their balance of ultraviolet rays is skewed, exposing you to unnatural and unhealthy levels of UVA, which will significantly increase your risk of skin cancer. So avoid indoor tanning at all costs – even if it sounds like an easy option.
If you’re justifying your tan by saying you need vitamin D, know that tanning isn’t necessary to synthesize it! 20 minutes in the sun is all you need to get your daily dose. After 20 minutes, your body slows down production of the vitamin. You could also get your daily intake from foods rich in vitamin D or from a daily 2000 IU supplement. You don’t even need the sun!
Sun doesn’t discriminate against age, either! Dr. P says, “Tanning is dangerous for people of all ages. Whether you’re tanning indoors or outdoors, tanning early in your life will increase your chance of getting skin cancer. In fact, your risk of developing melanoma increases by 75% if you start using a tanning bed before the age of 35.”
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Sunscreen!
When it comes to sunscreen, it’s important to remember these three things: mineral sunscreen, broad spectrum, and SPF 50.
Ever wonder what “SPF” stands for? The SPF number is the sunscreen’s sun protection factor. It tells you how much longer you can stay outside without burning. Dr. Prystowsky explains, “With SPF 50 you should be able to stay outside 50 times longer than normal. Theoretically. In reality, the level of protection is much lower. Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen to get the full SPF 50 protection.”
Broad spectrum is important because it accounts for blocking both UVA and UVB radiation. Regular sunscreens only take care of blocking UVB and maybe some UVA – but not enough! While only blocking UVB prevents sun burns, UVA still penetrates your skin, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
To combat these harmful rays, Dr. P recommends mineral sunscreens like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. She says, “They’re broad spectrum and don’t have all of the chemicals that are in other sunscreens. If you get the SPF 50 mineral sunscreens, then you’re pretty much doing the best you can to protect yourself from the sun. Granted, a long sleeve shirt and a wide brimmed hat would be the best protection, but that isn’t everyone’s summer fashion.”
Testing, Testing, One-Two-Three
While applying sunscreen is the first step in taking care of your skin, making sure it’s working is equally as important! If your sunscreen washes off, it will not work. This extends beyond swimming in the pool or the ocean. Sweating can also wipe your sunscreen clean off! This means that exercising or just sweating from being outdoors can make your sunscreen a lot less effective.
Keep in mind that your clothing and footwear can also rub off your sunscreen. To avoid this, Dr. P recommends reapplying sunscreen after any wardrobe change.
Be careful of your makeup too! Dr. Prystowsky says, “Makeup, moisturizers, and other products can dilute sunscreen as well. If you plan on wearing makeup over your sunscreen, opt for a makeup with sunscreen included instead.”