Sunscreen: When your life depends on skincare

Posted by Peter Matthews on

When summer comes around, we get pumped for the beach and park, the backyard parties, the road trips. But it’s easy to forget one summer skincare goodie that will probably save your life.

The sun is serious. Before we turn 70, two-thirds of us will be diagnosed with skin cancer. Luckily most cases are easy to remove, but you need to keep your cells under control with a good sunscreen.

A strong tan alone can cramp your skincare gains. When you start to tan, your skin is reacting to the sun like a piece of toast. You brown because things are burning.

If you forget your sunscreen, or if you stay in the sun too long, the strength and elasticity are being seared out of your skin. That’s why so many bronzed people look wrinkled, and people who spend all their time unprotected in the sun can age prematurely.

Don’t worry, though. It’s possible to enjoy the sun and take care of yourself.

Summer is the time to get excited and feel healthy. You’ve worked on your skin, or maybe you’re putting in effort now and change is brewing. There are plenty of ways to get your skin out of danger and have fun doing it.

What’s the deal with sunscreen?

It’s a cream that blocks UV rays, the part of sunlight that burns the skin and can eventually radiate your skin cells into tumours. Sunscreen has differing levels of Sun Protection Factor (SPF), which makes you a bit more resistant to the sun for a certain amount of time. That time is different for everyone, and lighter skin needs stronger sunscreen more often. A higher SPF is better. That’s why it’s handy to have an SPF 50+ sunscreen, which blocks about 98% of UV rays. All good sunscreen should block at least 90%, but every little bit helps on a hot day.

Just remember to use a lot.

Most people use half or a quarter of what they need. Somewhere like Australia, that’s nuts. Here the beaches are tempting and the UV rays hit hard. We should learn from childhood experience what amount of sunscreen we need in Summer, like we learn not to touch the seatbelt buckle or exist in the same place as magpies. Always use more.

Won’t all this sunscreen block my pores?

Sure, if you do it wrong you can end up with a breakout. But with a few tricks, you can make your skin even clearer using sunscreen.

1) Use a non-comedogenic sunscreen.

This means it won’t irritate any acne and won’t clog your pores. If you’re worried about whether the oil in your sunscreen will start a breakout, this should help.

Some brands might even give you a rash. Just get out of the sun, wait until the rash goes away and try a new brand. You can get an allergen test to find what sunscreen ingredients are flaring you up, then read the back of the bottle to check for it.

A lot of non-comedogenic sunscreens are made with skincare in mind. They tend to come with vitamins and other goodness that keeps you healthy.

2) Hydrate the skin.

Now that you’ve taken a good amount of that non-comedogenic sunscreen and lathered it in good, add another kind of protection: Moisturiser. This will get you ready for the sun’s other effects, like drying out everything it touches. If you really want to be sun ready, use a vitamin-enriched product like SkinB5 moisturiser that will stock you up with the essential vitamins and minerals that get your skin glowing.

3) Take some shade.

One way to really protect the moisture and structure of your skin is to get out of direct sunlight. Keeping in the shadow of a cover or a nice tree will bring your UV exposure right down. You can take the shade with you if you have a big hat or some long, breezy clothes. Even darker clothes let in less UV than lighter tones.

Besides, nothing feels better than the shade on a hot, breezy day.

Bonus tip: Bring friends.

Did you forget your sunscreen? A hat? Water? Your friend probably has one, and if they forgot something, you can help them out. That’s how you have a good time staying safe.

Peter Matthews is a freelance writer living in Melbourne. He enjoys hot days and beaches that have a bar nearby.


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