Summer is in full swing, and with it comes outdoor fun, from barbecues to boat trips and more. Even if you’re not spending any dedicated time outside, sun exposure during your car ride to work or through the window at home can have some nasty consequences, from dehydration to skin cancer, so we’ve put together some tips to follow to have your best and safest summer. Enjoy!
Drink plenty of water
Make sure you increase your water intake during these hot summer months. A great way to do this is have a water bottle on hand at all times, because if it’s there you’ll be more motivated to drink. When you’re exercising, it’s even more important to drink extra water. If you do less than an hour of moderate exercise, regular water should be sufficient to rehydrate you. If you’re doing more than an hour or more intense exercise, consider adding a sports drink with electrolytes and 6%-8% carbohydrates. The exact amounts that you should drink vary based on the local temperature and humidity, your personal sweat rate, how you gauge the intensity of your workouts, your diet, your size, and many other variables, so it may help to consult a physician or nutritionist for advice.
The best way to limit sun exposure is to put an actual layer between yourself and the sun. Luckily, we have a great list of adorable coverups that will protect your skin without dialing down the fashion. Additionally, why not grab a floppy hat ala Jessica Simpson to protect your delicate facial skin?
It’s great to get outside and get your fill of vitamin D, but make sure that you practice skin safety while you do so. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun is stronger during the summertime, and we are also more prone to exposure both because outdoor activities are popular and because summer clothing tends to show more skin. UV rays are the same things that make things glow and fluoresce due to chemical changes, so imagine what they’re doing to your skin!
It’s important to note that there are some people who believe that they do not burn, or that once they have a “base tan” the UV rays are not impacting their skin. In reality, skin darkening due to exposure is the result of DNA damage in your skin and nothing less. Although burns can be less obvious on those with darker skin, and although those with darker skin burn slower, they are still susceptible to skin cancer and age spots, and due to these misconceptions skin cancer due to exposure may in fact be more deadly for these individuals.
In order to prevent damage, select a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. The SPF number works as a multiplier for how long you can be in the sun without getting burnt. For example, if you normally would be able to be in the sun for 10 minutes before you burn, SPF 15 will increase that time to 150 minutes (if applied correctly). Additionally, make sure your sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB rays (broad-spectrum or full-spectrum sunscreens). UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, while UVB rays burn the surface layer of your skin. Also, be sure to select a sunscreen based on your activity level. If you think you may sweat, even just while lying down reading a book, select an active sunscreen that will be more water-resistant.
After-sun soothing solutions
If your skin does darken as a response to sun exposure, either through tanning or burning, it can feel dry and sometimes scratchy. My own personal instinct is to apply lotion, but this is not always the best bet. Most lotions have alcohols both as preservatives and for scent, so although it may feel better at first, ultimately you are prolonging your recovery time. A better option is applying aloe vera liberally. A great way to help the aloe vera soak in is to apply more than you think you need and then wear loose cotton clothing to make sure it doesn’t rub off anywhere. If your skin is warm to the touch, a lukewarm bath can be soothing, and if it is painful, sometimes adding oatmeal can help (I know how weird that sounds but trust me!). Make sure that when you get out of the bath you gently pat your skin dry instead of rubbing yourself down.
Get a healthy bronze
For those of us who love a tanned glow, there are options! You can make an appointment to get a professional spray tan, and you can often get a deal using Living Social, Groupon, or any number of similar sites. I personally have too many fears to do this, mostly built around Ross’s spray tan experience:
Anything that is a one-time solution is terrifying because I guarantee that this would be me. Instead, I prefer a buildable solution offered by Jergens Natural Glow. This comes in both a mousse and a lotion. I’ve tried and liked both, but I find that the lotion is easier to regulate when you put it on. If you really want it to look natural, shower and exfoliate (and if you shave, do that). Then, towel down and wait about half an hour. Apply a moisturizer (unscented if, like me, shaving irritates your leg hair follicles). Immediately after applying the moisturizer, apply the Natural Glow. Make sure that you rub it in carefully, because if there are any globs those will result in darkened spots. I’ve used Natural Glow for many summers, and although I’m very pale and so mistakes would definitely show up easily, I’ve only had one problem, which was when I forgot to rub in the excess on my hands and had a strange orange splotch on my wrist. To me, it was a giant splotch, but even when I sent my friends 5-10 HD photos no one else could tell. Apply this product 2-3 times per week until you reach the color you aim for.
I never put self-tanner on my face. I don’t care how gentle the product, I just can’t get past the idea of having a splotchy face. Instead, slather on the facial sunscreen and then go to town with your favorite bronzer. Worried about contouring when you’re already using bronzer? No sweat, that’s what highlighter is for!