The truth is that any changes to skin pigmentation due to sun exposure are damaging. However, some sun exposure is vital for the production of vitamin D, an important nutrient that has many roles in the body, such assisting the gut in absorbing calcium and phosphorus which are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. Here are some tips on how to say sun safe this summer.
Avoid them at all costs. Some sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than midday tropical sun and can be even more harmful, depending on various factors such as the strength of the UV rays used, the length of sessions, your skin type and your age. Continued use of sunbeds can increase your risk of skin cancer later in life.
Take care of your skin
If you take care of your skin, it'll take care of you. There's so much our skin already does for us – protecting us from harmful things in the outside world, preventing dehydration, helping to regulate our body temperature – that it's only fair we make sure it's well cared for. This is especially important in the summer, when there's higher risk to damage.
Exfoliating the night before sun exposure removes the dead cells from the uppermost layer of skin, evening out your skin tone and unclogging your pores. This allows for a long-lasting, even tan.
Keeping your skin moisturised and hydrated – both before and after you tan – will help you tan better and faster than if you have dry skin. This is as simple as moisturising the night before you plan to sunbathe, as well as putting on after-sun or a hydrating cream once you've been exposed to the sun.
Use the right sun cream
Always opt for a high SPF sun cream (SPF30 or SPF50) and look for the term 'broad spectrum' or the UVA logo with the word 'high' or 4/5 stars. Make sure you reapply every couple of hours for maximum protection.
Apply sun cream 30 minutes before going out and regularly top up every couple of hours while out in the sun, especially if you go swimming and wash off any protection that's on your skin (even if it says water resistant).
Eat the right foods
Your skin has its own nutritional needs and if your diet is poor then it can be reflected in your skin condition.
Rob Hobson, Head of Nutrition says: 'You are what you eat and the foods you choose to include in your diet can have both a nourishing and protective effect on your skin. Nutrients that act as antioxidants are particularly important as they help to protect the skin from the damage caused by excess free radicals that can build up from too much sun exposure.'
Certain nutrients and phytochemicals such as lycopene (found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon), vitamin E (found in wheatgerm, avocado, nuts and seeds) and selenium (found in fish and Brazil nuts) can help protect the skin against sun damage by helping to protect cells from oxidative stress.
Overexposing your skin to the sun can leave you with sunburn and while it's generally short lived, it can increase your risk of developing skin problems later in life. The best way to avoid burning, aside from keeping topped up on sun cream, is staying in the shade between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.