I am writing about skin protection on a typical overcast July morning. In England it is always a challenge to get the balance right. The sun comes out so we go rushing out to enjoy it and get our Vitamin D or we worry about the potential damage to our skin.
No one can argue that sun exposure is related to skin cancer. None of us want that so we thought we would look at what we can do to enjoy the sun safely.
We need time in the sun to top up our natural vitamin D; but fears over cancer can overwhelm us, leaving us frightened of the effects of the sun.
Over the years I have experienced fear of the sun. I got prickly heat every time I went to a hot climate, it made my life miserable. I developed strategies to cope – always having long sleeved shirts and long dresses to protect my skin, sitting in the shade a lot and wearing factor 50 applied so often it was ridiculous.
I haven’t been exposed to real heat for a number of years until last week. I went to Italy to the fabulous Lake Garda and 37 degrees. I decided to take a different approach I allowed myself 15 – 20 minutes without sunscreen and then I applied SPF 30 once or twice a day if I had been swimming. I got more colour in a week of sightseeing than I did in a fortnight of constant all day sunbathing.
Why did I take this approach? Over the years of using SPF 50 I became vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D deficiency had a big impact on my health.
I had an underactive thyroid. For a while I struggled with my thyroid balance but once I realised I was vitamin D deficient I started to take extra vitamin D and I now have control of my thyroid. I must emphasise that I am not saying that taking Vitamin D alone will resolve your thyroid issues but in my case it was a big help
How do you enjoy the sun safely?
There are a number of lifestyle choices you can make. Regular readers will know the importance we place on diet. Getting good antioxidants into your diet is a great start so make sure you eat a broad variety of coloured fruit and vegetables. Antioxidants give good protection against sun damage. Ensure you are eating Omega 3 products they offer you anti-inflammatory support.
Take a Vitamin D supplement. Seems counter-intuitive when you are in the sun? Vitamin D is an important supplement and is involved in many aspects of our health. For one, it offers us the feel good factor and you know that to be true! Think of how you feel on a bright sunny day – for most of us we are happier and smile more – unless we are a fair skinned red head and then maybe not…
Other benefits of vitamin D include formation of healthy bones and teeth, support for the immune system, muscles and blood calcium levels.
In addition, you need to know your skin. How long is it before you start to burn? A fair skinned person has far less time than someone with olive skin – know what your time is. Mine is 20 minutes. This is important when choosing a sunscreen.
Sunscreen is given Sun Protection Factors. So if I use SPF30 I can stay in the sun for 30 x 20 minutes without burning. Of course, if you swim or rub your skin this will be reduced so learn what your skin tolerates. Your sunscreen should also cover UVA and UVB rays
Another important choice is the type of sunscreen many are loaded with nasty chemicals so look at our range of more natural products
Consider your lifestyle and how much time you spend outdoors. Are you outside a lot or mainly indoors? Obviously, gardeners and builders working outside build up more tolerance to the sun through constant exposure.
If you are sat at a desk indoors all week your skin will be more vulnerable to the impact of the sun. For you, it is even more important that you gradually expose your skin to the sun. Tempting as it is to rush out on a hot day and soak it up all day please build up your time in the sun gradually and take sensible precautions.
What are the sensible precautions? Avoid the midday sun, have something to cover up, have sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat with you. The other really important thing is plenty of water; on a hot day especially you do not want to get dehydrated so make sure you have water with you. Know what the ultra violet radiation is for the day.
0 -2 minimal
3 -4 low
5 -6 moderate
7 – 9 high
Remember also that too much time in the sun ages the skin. Personally, I don’t want to look like a leather bag in my old age so I take care of my skin in the sun! Too much sun can weaken the skin too making it more susceptible to damage and disease.
In conclusion, should we get any more lovely sunshine this year please consider the things we have suggested so that you can have a happy and healthy summer