Before and After Sun Protection Tips

A sunburn is often a cautionary tale. You get just one, and suddenly you’re slathering on the sunscreen every time you venture out to the beach. While sun protection is important to take seriously if you don’t want prematurely aged skin, you don’t necessarily need to suffer a sunburn to see the long-term damage (i.e., skin spots from hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and dry, crepey skin). Just exposing your skin to ultraviolet rays (i.e., tanning) at all can permanently damage and traumatize the skin’s cells.

Sun exposure can be good and bad. For instance, the sun’s rays provide adequate daily doses of vitamin D (known as the sunshine vitamin), which boosts, energy, mood, and overall wellbeing. However, we can quickly overdo it with sun exposure. All it takes is a few drinks on an open-patio or a day at a baseball game.

Here are a few before and after sun protection tips to keep in mind:

1. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a 15+ SPF
Research from the American Skin Cancer Foundation claims, that “one out of every 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in a lifetime…[However], 90% of skin cancer cases are a direct result of amount and intensity of ultraviolet light exposure from the sun.” So seek a broad-spectrum sunscreen that aims to filter or reflect UV radiation away from the skin’s surface. Look for sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which deflect UV rays. And keep in mind, the higher the SPF rating, the less harmful UV rays are being absorbed by your skin.

2. Added sun protection
Sure, applying sunscreen should be step one of your sun protection regimen, but you can boost sun damage by using a beach umbrella or sun shade in open sun, and also by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.

3. Go sunless tanning
You can still get an enviable tan without exposing your skin to the damaging effects of the sun or a tanning bed. Use a sunless tanning lotion as a safer “tanning” alternative. Most self-tanning products come in a hydrating and moisturizing lotion that provides a natural, sun-kissed glow in a few applications at the degree of color you want.

4. Don’t forget after sun care
While many are diligent in applying sunscreen before venturing outside on hot, summer day, we neglect our after-sun care. However, post-sun care can reverse the damage of minimal sun exposure and prevent sunspots, discolorations, dry skin, and visible wrinkles. After sun care should include:

  • A cool shower to rinse skin of oils and sweat, and to prevent acne and other skin irritations.
  • Apply a naturally rehydrating after-sun lotion, such as Aloe Vera, to replace lost moisture and soothe any traces of sun damage.
  • If you are a little sunburnt, re-apply Aloe as needed and put off shaving, sugaring, or waxing until skin has a chance to repair and heal.
  • Consume foods rich in “good” fats, such as olive oil, sunflower seeds, and avocado, which contain plenty of vitamin E, a vitamin that helps boost skin hydration while preventing photodamage (i.e., dyness, sunspots, and crow’s feet).