Get Serious About Sun-Care
MAKE SURE YOUR FUN INCLUDES SUNCARE
Yay! It’s June!
Warm weather is finally here.
The quarantine restrictions are being lifted just in time for us to enjoy the beautiful sunny outdoors.
Nothing could hinder our excitement for the beach, cookouts, baseball, and all things summer, right?
Well… June is also recognized as Cancer from the Sun Awareness Month1
As much as we love a ‘healthy’ sun-kissed glow, remember those same rays which are so necessary for life can also be harmful. We must protect our skin from the potential damage of the sun’s dangerous UV rays while we are basking in their warmth. Plus, we need to practice preventative and corrective skin care as part of our regular routine, to keep our complexions looking healthy and youthful.
If you don’t already include sun care as part of your daily routine, start now. Even if the added steps feel inconvenient at first, long-term this self-care is a valuable investment in your ageless beauty and health. Incorporating the following information and tips will allow you to have fun in the sun now without regret showing up on your skin later.
Contrary to popular belief, UV rays are intense 365 days a year, even penetrating cloud cover. Neither cool temperatures, water, nor wind diffuse the intensity of the sun’s rays. Further, UVB rays are stronger in spring and summer, and during the peak daylight hours each day.2
Fun Fact: tans were once considered a trait of the working class.
Historically, as far back as the Greeks and Romans, pasty white complexions were so coveted as status-symbols people resorted to poisonous concoctions to bleach their skin.
Until the early 1900s, women born outside of aristocracy (including my grandmother – I remember watching in horror and asking her why) would scrub off the tans they got working the fields so others wouldn’t as easily recognize their lower status in society.
Socialite and trendsetter, Coco Chanel forever changed society’s views on tanned skin3.
A photographer captured an image of Ms. Chanel in Cannes after a meditteranean cruise during which she spent too much time sunbathing, as evidenced by her darkened skin. Society went crazy wanting to emulate Coco’s sun-kissed complexion.
Tans were no longer seen as gauche characteristics of the working class. People everywhere became obsessed with tanning themselves as dark as possible!
Manufacturers and formulators rushed to accommodate the trend. With the introduction of self-tanners in the 1950’s, international flights to exotic sunny locations in the 1960’s, and tanning beds in the 1970’s, there became no limit to how dark a person could attempt to turn herself.
As a child of the 70’s, I remember sunbathing being a national pastime. My friends’ older sisters – our mom’s too! – slathered themselves up with butter, baby oil, crisco… anything to intensify the slow bake of their skin. People laid on aluminum sheets and silver sun reflectors to achieve the look of a bronzed goddess.
Why Is Tanning a Problem?
“Yeah, yeah, Heather. We hear you, but you still haven’t said why tanning is a bad thing. How can something that makes us look good be bad?”
First of all, not all of us think a tanned person looks good. Their skin does not have the same appearance as a naturally dark-complected person. Besides,I like my pasty white Irish skin. I was never able to tan anyway; I just burned, peeled and went back to being pasty white (with invisible damage).
And I can see the green cast of a tanning bed addict a mile away. Really.
Plus, the proven long-term effects of sun exposure are not the youthful, dewy, evenly-toned complexion we all want.
Most importantly: the sun’s UV rays are RADIATION!
What does that mean?
- UVA rays contribute to aging, which none of us wants.
- UVB rays contribute to burning, also undesirable.
- Both UVA and UVB rays alter the DNA in the skin’s cells.
- Altered DNA results in cell mutations that can end in cancer.
- Skin cancer is not always visible and can result in death.4
Still insist on having a tanned complexion?
While tanning beds are still very popular, they are still considered an unhealthy habit. Tanning beds do not eliminate harmful radiation.
Spray tanning has gained popularity in recent years, but statistics and research show the nano-particles inhaled during spray tanning can cause other cancers5. I know an esthetician who loved her spray tans and thought it was harmless; she is now battling a rare form of leukemia from overexposure to the nano-particles.
Don’t despair. You can have a summer glow without damaging your skin. A sunless tanning lotion is an easy, cost-effective solution and can result in the appearance of beautifully tanned skin. Different products boast different results – some deep, dark tropical tans, while others offer a subtle sun-kissed glow.
For best results, self-tanning lotions require regular exfoliation for a smooth, even application, and need to be reapplied every few days.
My current favorite sunless tanner is Tan Physics. In addition to creating a naturally tanned look, this product contains skin conditioners and peptides. But be aware, it has become so popular the company is often out of stock.
Straight Talk About the Good, the Bad, and the Necessities of Sun Care for Your Skin
First and most importantly, we ALL need sun care for at least our faces (and hands)! Make sure your sun care product provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays. You need to protect both the skin’s surface and the layers beneath.
However, suncare and after-suncare products are not all created equally. When UV rays were found to be dangerous for our skin’s health, suncare manufacturers raced to create ingredients offering higher and higher SPFs (Sun Protection Factors). The resulting products contained chemical compounds just as bad, or worse, for our skin than the sun’s rays.6
What NOT to Use
Three commonly used, but unhealthy, ultraviolet (UV) filters in sun care products are
1) octyl methoxycinnamate – a known endocrine disruptor,
2) benzophenone 3 – a known allergen/immune toxicant,
3) octocrylene – degrades into benzophenone, a suspected carcinogen; endocrine disruptor.
These chemicals soak into the deeper layers of the skin after their application rather than remaining at the surface, exposing the top skin layers to probable sun damage.
Moreover, they can generate harmful compounds called reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are known to cause Skin Cancer and premature aging. Once these UV filters soak into the skin’s lower layers, the filters react with UV rays to create more damaging ROS. In short, stay away from products containing the above mentioned ingredients.7
Some Excellent Sun Care Recommendations
Choose sun care products that use physical sun protection ingredients rather than chemical sun protection. Only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are currently approved by the FDA as natural – meaning physical – sunscreens.
Physical sunblocks contain safe ingredients for UVA and UVB protection. These ingredients block and diffuse the rays away from the skin rather than absorbing them.
Speaking of the FDA, be watching for new regulations regarding sunscreens, as chemical (non-physical) sunscreens are being found to enter the bloodstream, reclassifying them as a drug.
Look for multi-tasking sun care products such as Wholistic Beauty Therapy Au Naturel age-defying moisturizer with zinc, turmeric, and vitamin c plus hydrating, age-defying ingredients.
My favorite body sunblock is any Supergoop product. Seriously, they are amazing!
Remember, no matter what brand or product you choose, make sure it is at least an SPF 28 and re-apply it every 2-3 hours.
And girl, wash your face at the end of the day, every day, with a microbiome-friendly cleanser. Get the sunblock, grime, sweat, and everything else off. Then use your skin-appropriate after-sun products to ensure your ageless beauty.
I am crazy in love with this delightfully beautiful body exfoliant: Herbivore Botanicals Amethyst Exfoliating Body Polish. It’s worth the price even if you only splurge on it once!
For exfoliating your face, I recommend Truauara Refreshing Tonic for gentle exfoliation as often as daily. For a deeper manual exfoliation 2-3 times weekly, I recommend Wholistic Beauty Therapy Lift Off Natural Microderm Skin Polish.
Always moisturize both face and body at least once, preferably twice, daily. Make sure you use a serum or moisturizer (or both!) containing peptides and vitamin C to boost the skin’s own collagen and elastin production, in turn further helping protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
An easy tip for maximum moisture retention is to skip toweling off. Use your body and face serums and creams directly on damp skin. The moisture acts as a vehicle for a more effective application while also locking in the moisture itself.
Happy Summer! Enjoy your fun in the sun!
P.s. Remember: staying hydrated is important for your entire system and is also great skincare!