Hurray is summer, time to enjoy the Sun!!
Sun exposure has various health benefits like producing the happy hormone (serotonin), reducing blood pressure, cancer risk, and vitamin D production, balancing calcium levels, and making strong bones.
However, unlike popular belief, the use of sunscreens does not result in vitamin D deficiency in your body.
It is essential to protect skin and eyes from the damaging effect of the Sun because exposure to ultraviolet radiation contributes to aging skin and is the leading cause of skin cancer. Make sure your children are protected as well as yourself.
You should also be careful to protect your skin if you are at a high altitude in any season, particularly in the snow, because it reflects extra ultraviolet radiation onto your skin.
Why is Newzealand sun too harsh?
New Zealanders are especially susceptible to sunburn because of 2 reasons:
Thin Ozone layer over Newzealand: Sadly, due to decades of man-made gas emissions, the ozone layer over New Zealand has continuously thinned. The ozone layer is like Earth’s personal sun protectant & its role is to absorb the harmful UV rays sent from the Sun.
New Zealand has cleaner air: while having lower levels of air pollution is lovely for our environment, it means we are less protected than other countries. Cleaner air means it is thinner, reducing the barriers between UV light and our skin.
Mild to moderate sun exposure, especially the morning sun, is good for you but be careful if you are out in the Sun for too long.
I have compiled a 3 step process that will help protect your skin during this summer:
1: Cover Up:
No matter what the weather is or what you are doing, cover up! The best natural sunscreen is a physical block of sunlight. Simply keeping out of the Sun and covering up should be prioritized.
Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts, long skirts or trousers, and a wide-brimmed hat, as well as avoid the Sun between 11am and 4pm.
For those who want to go for a swim and avoid using all sunscreens, simply swim in the early morning or evening hours. It may not be that sociable, but you’ll avoid the Sun as well as the crowds!
- Take particular care in summer – between September and May in New Zealand – especially between 11 am and 4 pm.
- Light-colored cotton fabrics are great for summers.
- Put on a broad-brimmed hat.
- Try to keep in the shade or carry an umbrella.
- Apply sunscreen to all uncovered skin before you go out.
2: Sunscreen Application – but again here, should I go for the natural/Mineral or synthetic/chemical sunscreen:
Concerns about current sunscreens’ health and environmental effects seem to be making consumers worried about using them and lawmakers more likely to restrict them. Some sunscreen compounds approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, for instance, have recently fallen under scrutiny for their potential to disrupt hormone signaling, which is linked to increased cancer risk.
Meanwhile, worldwide, skin cancer rates are rising: 132,000 cases of melanoma and 2 to 3 million other skin cancers occur each year. Sunlight transmits two types of ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin damage: UV-A rays, which are linked to skin aging and may contribute to some forms of skin cancer, and higher-energy UV-B rays, which can cause sunburns, as well as skin cancer.
Natural/ Mineral sunscreen VS Chemical/synthetic sunscreen:
“Mineral sunscreen (ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) have small particles that sit on the skin’s surface and physically prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin.”
Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, allow UV light into the skin. Once the light is absorbed into the skin, the chemicals in the sunscreen (the AAD lists oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate) create a chemical reaction in which UV light is converted to heat, and the heat dissipates from the skin.
Most conventional synthetic sunscreens also contain cancer-causing fragrance, chemicals, parabens, harsh alcohols, and toxic chemical solvents. Since your skin absorbs what you put on it, it’s not a good idea to put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat.
In my opinion:
“I tell my patients that mineral sunscreens are like a healthy, home-prepared meal, while chemical sunscreens are like the fast food of sunscreens.” Between the two types, mineral sunscreens are generally the better, healthier option. Mineral sunscreens typically take longer to rub into your skin and need to be applied more frequently, but they may be safer for long-term use.
What SPF sunscreen is better for you?
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for any extended outdoor activity. An SPF 30 sunscreen allows about 3 percent of UVB rays to hit your skin. An SPF of 50 allows about 2 percent of those rays through. That may seem like a slight difference until you realize that the SPF 30 allows 50 percent more UV radiation onto your skin. Regardless of the SPF, though, it’s important to apply one ounce (two tablespoons) 30 minutes before going outside and reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.
3: Hydration: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty! Drink Water throughout the day to prevent dehydration or over-exhaustion.
Use the color of your urine to guide whether you’re hydrated enough — the clearer, the better.
Consume hydrating foods like watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, coconut water, cucumbers, mint leaves, lemon water, lettuce, grapefruit, etc.
Avoid Alchohol, coffee, soda & energy drinks when out in the Sun.
Remember, Water is the no.1 drink to keep you hydrated this summer; in fact, adding some mint & cucumber can work wonders for your skin too.
I hope this article was informative; wishing you all a healthy & safe summer!
Share it with your friends & family, so they can benefit as well!