We are here…the start of beach season, weekends by the pool, farmers markets and street fests. As an Esthetician, you might assume that I want you to cover up completely. Or even better, avoid the sun at all costs. Not true! The sun is the source of energy for all life on this planet. It is the center of our solar system and our entire calendar is based around it. Without the sun, life as we know it would cease to exist. So…it’s kind of important. The sun has an impressive list of benefits, and we should take advantage of them all. Now, as someone who has dedicated her life to skin care, you may assume I am going to preach “Protection! Protection! Protection!” This is true.
Why we love the sun
It Makes Us Happy
Yes, the sun makes us happy! Exposure to sunlight increases serotonin production, a hormone considered to be a natural mood stabilizer. When serotonin levels are elevated, we feel more content and less anxious.
It Makes Us Healthy
We know that Vitamin D is responsible for building strong bones. It supports a healthy immune system, brain and nervous system and regulates insulin to aid in diabetes management. While supplements are beneficial, as little as 15 minutes of sun exposure a day is enough to deliver all these vitamin D boosting benefits.
Too much of a good thing
It’s true, too much of a good thing can be, well, too much. Too much sun exposure…okay, too much unprotected sun exposure… will lead to unwanted side effects. Obviously, skin cancer is our number one concern. But, there are so many other undesirable consequences from prolonged and unprotected exposure. These can be mildly annoying to potentially dangerous and will most definitely cause premature aging. Uneven pigmentation, from freckles to large sun spots, and permanent redness to blisters are a few of the things you can look forward to. And the last point I’ll push here is this…wrinkles!
The “Talk” (you knew this was coming)
“With over 5 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers, and 85 percent of melanoma cases, are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.” *The Skin Cancer Foundation
Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent the unwanted, and dangerous, side effects of UV exposure while still allowing us to enjoy the beautiful, sunny days of summer.
Topical antioxidants like Vitamin C and E, followed by an application of a Broad Spectrum SPF, should be your first step in preventing sun damage. Pay special attention to the face and hands, the two parts of our body exposed to UV rays on daily basis. And, don’t forget to reapply! It is recommended to apply the first layer of sunscreen 30 minutes before going out in the sun. After that, reapply every 2 hours. While water and sweat can wash away what you’ve already applied, it can also be as simple as catching any areas you missed on the first go-round.
A diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants will help with sun protection from the inside out by protecting cells from premature aging, reducing inflammation and preventing DNA damage. Summer-friendly vitamin-rich foods include red bell peppers, papaya, sweet potatoes and chicken. And, when you are basking in the life-giving sun at your favorite farmers market, be sure to load up on antioxidants with Goji berries, wild blueberries, grapes, nuts and dark green veggies.
The Ray of Hope
The sun is our friend! It is also, like, a billion times brighter than any other star in the universe. So, we must enjoy the exposure, and avoid over-exposure. You know your own body, and we each have a different tolerance for the sun. My advice is this: Listen to the experts, trust your own judgement and if you’re ever in doubt…reapply!
The Best Sunscreens!
Esthetician, CIDESCO Diplomate
Joseph Michael’s Salon and Spa