Summers bring additional stress to our skin in the form of intense sunlight, heat, dust and pollution. This environmental stress affects more if you have to work outside for long periods. However with proper care and some simple tips, you can protect your skin on even the hottest summer day.
Understanding sun and sunlight
Sunlight comprises of visible light, ultraviolet rays (UVR) and infrared rays (IR). Visible light is the one that makes us see different thing and is generally not harmful for skin. However it is the UVR that is responsible for damage to our skin. The damaging effects of UVR include:
- Photo ageing: Longer you remain in sun, more will be the damage. Gradually your skin may become wrinkled and texture of your skin may deteriorate. This damage is maximum near the sea (sunlight reflects from water surface) and in mountains (more UVR at high altitudes). Maximum sunlight reaches earth surface between 10 am to 4 pm.
- Pigmentation: Sunlight can cause uneven pigmentation of your skin in addition to dark spots and blemishes over cheeks and forehead.
- Tumor induction: This problem is more frequent in white skinned people. However with prolonged sun exposure anyone can fall prey to this extremely dangerous consequence.
Who need to protect themselves from Sun
Fair individuals need extra sun protection because their skin contains less melanin and hence less natural protection from sunlight. Females tend to bear maximum brunt of sunlight because of their relatively fair skin than men. Children who play in sun for long hours need additional protection. Elderly have higher tendency to develop sunlight induced tumors and hence need extra care. Finally anyone who has to work outdoors needs special care for obvious reasons.
When to start sun protection
Earlier you make it a habit to stay protected from sun, longer will you remain young! Research has shown that sunlight has cumulative effect on human skin. That means all the years your skin keeps absorbing sunlight and there is continuous damage going on in the deeper layers of your skin. And when a certain amount of sunlight has accumulated in the skin, this damage begins manifesting. So, your goal should be to limit sun exposure to your skin to the minimum so that this critical threshold may never be reached. For this care should start in the teenage years itself.
Ways for sun protection
- Avoid outdoor work as far as possible. Especially, avoid outdoor work between 10 am and 4 pm because this is the time when there are maximum ultraviolet rays in the atmosphere.
- Use barrier methods of sun protection. This is by far the most effective, cheap and often the most underestimated method to protect your skin. This includes covering your sun exposed body parts with a sufficiently thick layer of clothes. Wear a broad rimmed hat (or a cap) and sunglasses whenever you go out. Take an umbrella too (it will add to your fashion quotient as well!). Avoid wearing black color. It absorbs more light and may raise your body temperature. Wear long sun protection gloves to protect your forearms and arms.
- Whenever possible, search for trees and use these gifts of nature for shade during times of long sun exposure.
- Use a good quality sunscreen. Sunscreen with SPF 30 is sufficient for normal skin. However fair skinned individuals and people working outside for long hours may require a higher SPF sunscreen. Sunscreen should be used properly to harvest maximum benefit from them. These should be applied at least three times a day. Apply at least half an hour before you go out (it takes half an hour to start working!). Apply sufficient quantity. Use more sunscreen if you swear more.
- Maintain proper nutrition and hydration. Drink plenty of water and juices frequently. Ideally you should drink a glass of fluids every hour on a hot summer day. Eat seasonal fruits (like mango and lichi) all day long. These contain vitamins which have the capacity to protect your skin from damaging effects of harsh summers.
Is getting a glowing skin that difficult in summers!
Absolutely not! All you need to have is adequate knowledge and will to work for proper care of our skin. So, buckle up this summer and achieve what you have always dreamt of. Go Shine!