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giil in sun wearing wide brimmed hat

How to Enjoy the Sun Safely

Last week we discussed the good and the bad of sun exposure. Today we’ll look at how you can get a healthy amount of sunlight, while at the same time protecting your skin from damage. Follow the 6 points below and your skin will stay younger longer.

Watch the UV Index

Even with sunscreen, strong sunlight on a hot day will damage our skin. Fortunately, with our greater knowledge of the dangers of overexposure, our local weather providers usually also tell us the UV Index for that day. If not, you can look it up online. As long as you follow the steps below, you can safely stay outdoors in a UV Index of 7 or lower. Above 8, however, you should limit your time outdoors regardless of what precautions you’ve taken to protect your skin.

a basic uv index chart

A simple UV index chart. Click the image for more detailed information from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Cover Up

This sounds counterintuitive, as we need exposure to sunlight to produce vitamin D, but it doesn’t mean you have to wear layers of UV blocking clothing and a hat the size of city block. It does mean that on days with a higher UV Index, you should cover with clothing any part of your body that you haven’t protected with sunscreen, and while you don’t have to wear a hat that will prevent you from getting through doors, a wide brimmed hat that provides full shade for your face is always a good idea.

Sunscreen

woman with sunscreen on her face

Always protect your skin with sunscreen, especially when exposed to strong sunlight.

This one may be obvious but it’s amazing how often we neglect it.

“I’ll only be outside for a few minutes”.

“I could use some color”.

Sound familiar? But even a few minutes under a high UV Index midday sun can cause extreme damage to our skin, and some of this damage is irreversible. Every time we fail to protect our skin from the sun, we choose to allow or skin to age. If you’re serious about protecting your skin, you should be using a daily skin cream or moisturizer with an SPF rating appropriate for our skin type (the lighter your skin and the more prone to burning, the higher the SPF you need).

And of course, if you are going to the beach or you’ll be out in the summer sun for any length of time, you need to cover all exposed skin with at least a 30 SPF sunscreen, and higher for those with light sensitive skin.

Avoid Burning at All Costs

It shouldn’t need to be said, but a sunburn is like taking a flamethrower to our skin cells. The burn is the result of extreme UV radiation damage. Yes, the skin will heal and darken to protect itself from further harm, but the worst of the damage is already done. This kind of intense exposure will lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, but even worse, it will cause permanent damage to our cell’s DNA, which means permanent aging of our skin.

Moisturizer

As mentioned in last week’s article, we’re not really sure why the sun dries out our skin, but there is no doubt that it does. In addition to protecting your skin with sunscreen while avoiding direct exposure to strong sunlight, a good quality moisturizer will provide additional protection from the drying effects of the sun.

While there are some good quality moisturizers available at your local drug store, professional brands contain ingredients not available in most of them. For the best option, check out our ZO Pro Skin Care line.

An Exfoliating Facial or Chemical Peel

While this won’t protect your skin, it will remove the damaged and dried out cells, bringing new skin cells to the surface as well as adding back in lost moisture. After the sun, a facial can help us to restore our youthful appearance and give us back our glow.

Peels go one step further, and remove the top layer of damaged skin, bringing new healthy skin to the surface. Peels can effectively reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation as well, such as age spots and melasma.

Clinical Treatments

If it’s in your budget, there are some clinical treatments that can help to actually repair the damage and reverse the effects of sun exposure. Laser Skin Rejuvenation, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Skin Rejuvenation, also known as a vampire facial, can actually reverse sun damage, and turn back the clock on our skin. Contact us for a free consultation and stay tuned next week for details on the science behind these treatments.

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About the Author

christy author

Christina Buckley

Christina is passionate about the science of skincare, and about helping her clients look and feel younger. Christy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Penn State, and a Masters in Biology from the University of Delaware. Through her partnership in the MagnifaSkin MedSpa clinic, she works daily to help her clients find the keys to magnifying their natural beauty.

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