Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it’s an amazing barrier against everything from pathogens to water. But it’s not impervious to damage, and especially in the long, bright days of summer, you might forget that you need to protect your skin even more than usual from the sun’s rays.
At Med Physique Center for Aesthetics in Austin, Texas, our expert team of aestheticians wants you to have the smoothest, healthiest skin possible. To that end, we’ve created this guide to summertime skin care to ensure the sun doesn’t suck you dry.
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, leading to drying, flaking, wrinkling, and sagging. Longer exposure, and exposure over a period of time, can lead to skin cancer. Fortunately, most types are preventable.
Prolonged UV exposure, the National Eye Institute reports, may also lead to cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens; the condition affects more than 20 million Americans over the age of 40.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy the sun but do it safely.
This is perhaps the most important tip, and it can’t be stressed enough. Use sunscreen any time you go outdoors, and the more, the better. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using one that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. And sunscreen isn’t just for sunny days. Those UV rays can damage your skin even on cloudy or cool days. Make sure you re-apply it every two hours, or sooner if you’ve been swimming or sweating a lot.
Also look for a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection — that means it should contain a mixture of benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium oxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone. If it doesn’t contain these compounds, it may only filter out UVB light. While this is the primary culprit for causing sunburn and skin cancer, UVA light can lead to premature aging, and skin cancer as well.
In addition, be sure to check the expiration date on the bottle. The shelf life is usually around three years, but it could be less if it’s been stored at high temperatures.
A wide-brimmed hat, long pants, and long sleeves are a good start for protecting your skin. It also makes a difference what the clothes are made of. The best materials are unbleached cotton, high-luster polyesters, and thin silk. All of these can either absorb or reflect the incoming UV rays, preventing them from reaching your skin. Dark materials also absorb UV light, as do clothes made of tight weaves.
The sun is brightest between 10am and 2pm, and it has the greatest chance of causing a sunburn during this time. If you have to be outside during this part of the day, carry an umbrella to provide cover, or seek out the shade of a tree or a building. You should still wear protective clothing and use sunscreen when you’re in the shade.
The more time you spend in the hot sun, the more dehydrated you become, and that takes a toll on your skin and your health. Carry water with you everywhere you go, and drink often.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s recommended minimum amount of water daily is:
15.5 cups (3.7 liters) for men
11.5 cups (2.7 liters) for women
Looking for more tips on how you can care for your skin, no matter what the season? Contact Med Physique Center for Aesthetics by calling us at 512-453-7000, or by scheduling an appointment online.