The weather is getting hotter, and summer is fast approaching. That means most of us are baring more skin and spending lots of time outside enjoying a little fun in the sun. During summer break, my son and I spend most of our time outdoors just frolicking around or engaging in some type of outdoor activity. But the warmer weather also means that those harsh sun rays are beaming down on our skin. The immediate damage of too much sun is sunburn, but the most serious threat is skin cancer.
Steering clear of the sun is the best way to avoid sun damage, but ain’t nobody trying to do that. So while you are enjoying this summer weather, keep yourself protected by practicing these tips for a safe time in the sun.
MAKE SUNSCREEN A PRIORITY
I know you’ve heard the phrase because I have heard it numerous times in my life – “Black people don’t need sunscreen!” Yes, we do sis. I know that melanin is magical, but it does not protect us from sun damage. You should always apply sunscreen about twenty minutes before going outside or getting into the pool to allow time for the product to absorb into your skin. Reapply every three hours while outdoors. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours while you’re swimming.
In an article explaining the differences in sunscreens, Skincancer.org states – “UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other light-induced effects of aging (photoaging). They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB”.
Look for sunscreens that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Be sure to drink water throughout the day during summer months (actually, try making it a year-round habit) to prevent getting dehydrated. When you are on the go, remember to take a bottle or two of water along with you.
Try to eat fruits that have a high water content such as watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, and grapefruit. You could even add fruit to your water to give it a bit of flavor.
Staying hydrated will help add to your summer glow.
PROTECT THAT MELANIN FROM HEAD TO TOE
When using sunscreen, remember to protect your entire body. Consistent sun exposure without protection will gradually thin your skin and cause wrinkles.
Protect the delicate areas of your eyes with appropriate creams or balms. Look for lip care products with at least an SPF of 15. Consider a lip balm as opposed to a lip gloss when outside during the summer, as balms tend to hydrate more and stay on longer. Also, invest in a pair of good sunglasses to help shield your eye area.
After applying sunscreen to your face, you should apply it to your neck as well. Don’t neglect your chest area, as it is one of the areas of our bodies that is more susceptible to sunburn.
Finally, apply sunscreen to your hands and feet. Invest in a hand cream that offers SPF protection, and be sure to apply it at least twenty minutes before driving.
DON’T OVER EXFOLIATE
After spending time outdoors, who doesn’t love a good shower or bath? When bathing, be gentle on your skin. I love a good loofah just as much as the next person, but over exfoliating can actually irritate our skin. A weekly exfoliating routine using a loofah or mild scrub is ideal in your quest for softer, smoother skin.
Watch your water temperature as well (note to self). I love a hot bath or shower and don’t feel that I’ve actually gotten clean if my water is not very hot. But hot water is actually drying to our skin. So turn the temperature down a notch!
WEAR THE PROPER ATTIRE
Be sure that you dress to protect. Lightweight clothing and lighter colors are best during summer months. The light colors help to reflect sunlight and lightweight materials allow for more air flow. Wearing a baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat will also help to shield you from harmful UVA/UVB rays.
Lastly, make sure that you and your loved ones take frequent breaks from the sun. Avoid getting overheated by spending lots of time in the shade or going indoors for a quick respite from the heat.
Enjoy your summer!