Preparing for your Holiday
Since the 1950s it’s been considered fashionable to have tanned, glowing skin. It’s understandable, a golden tan makes eyes look brighter and teeth whiter, suggesting an improvement in our health and vitality.
Our skin is the largest organ of the human body, yet we rarely think of it as a vital organ, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that the sun’s harmful Ultra Violet (UV) rays were thought to be carcinogenic. Furthermore, persistent low level exposure may cause premature ageing. Despite theses concerns, there is still a desire for many of us to achieve that healthy sun-kissed look. Whilst sun exposure does have health benefits, too much is definitely not a winner.
Vitamin D is essential for skeletal growth and bone health. However, dietary sources of the vitamin are limited and so the main source is from the action of sunlight on the skin. However, too much sun exposure and sunburn is a known risk factor for the development of non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common cancer in the UK. It is also known to cause the most dangerous type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma. This type of skin cancer is 4 times more common in people who suffer severe sunburn in childhood.
There is a simple plan for anyone (including parents with young children) heading into the sun and that is the 3 Ps: Personality, Preparation, Protection!
- What personality is your skin? Is it happy skin or is it easily upset?
- How has your skin tanned in the past?
- Accept your skin’s personality – you can’t change it – but you must be kind to it – it needs to last a long time!
Doctors refer to your skin’s ‘personality’ as its Fitzpatrick skin type. This is determined by how easily your skin burns when exposed to the sun, and whether or not you tan. People who burn more easily and tan less need to be extra careful in the sun!
- Detoxing and keeping well hydrated can help get your skin into the best condition. Improve your diet by drinking more water and less alcohol.
- Regular, gentle exfoliation a few weeks before your holiday will stop the build-up of dead skin cells. Don’t overdo the scrubbing and be sure to moisturize well afterwards.
- Do your product research and get shopping (not using up last year’s stuff)! Make sure you pre-test products before your holiday. Stick with well-known brands and always look for both UVA and UVB star rated products.
- Always wear good quality sun protecttion products or clothing whilst in the sun, wear a hat, and make sure your sunglasses have UV protection lenses.
- Read the label – to be effective, some products need be applied to the skin well in advance of sun exposure.
- Reapply sun protection products frequently; towelling and getting wet can reduce the effectiveness of the product without you realizing. Always read the product label to check how often it needs to be reapplied.
- Clothing is a good option but remember not all clothing will keep the sun at bay.
- Don’t misjudge the sun’s power in cool or cloudy weather. UV will penetrate in dull or windy conditions.
- After sun care is really important to prevent dehydrated skin. But you don’t have to use an After-Sun product, any good body moisturiser will do; it may help to use one that contains a naturally soothing ingredient such as aloe vera.
So, if you’re lucky enough to be planning a sunshine-packed holiday follow the 3 Ps and avoid the damaging and aging effects of the sun! We say go for gold, not bronze, when it comes to sun protection!