Tanning is something which many of us get excited for as soon as the Sun starts beaming down on the summer days, or we anticipate the bronzed bodies we’ll be bringing back from a vacation. It’s no secret that the sun-kissed, radiant and goddess-like tan is a sought-after look for many, but what about the darker side of a suntan: the damage? Suntanning can be extremely harmful to your skin and the UV rays from the Sun have the potential to damage your skin cells and increase your risk of skin cancer as well as the unpleasant effects of sunburn. So, if you want to find out how you can stay safe in the Sun whilst developing that glowy suntan, read on.
- Do: Wear a sunscreen with adequate SPF
The first, and arguably the most important and basic tip, is to wear a sunscreen, and make sure it has the correct SPF to protect you from the Sun. Many people underestimate the level of protection they need, but you should go with at least an SPF 30 or even a 50, particularly if your skin is fair, in the summer. Anything less won’t provide enough protection.
- Don’t: Only protect from the UVB rays
On the topic of choosing the correct sunscreen, you also need to check what the sunscreen will protect you from. Nowadays, most sunscreens protect from both UVA and UVB rays, which is what you want, and you can check this by seeing if it has ‘broad-spectrum’ on the packaging. If not, the sunscreen won’t protect you from UVA rays, and this can still damage skin.
- Do: Reapply your sunscreen regularly
Many people apply their sunscreen in the morning before they leave, or once they arrive at the beach, but this isn’t going to last you all day. If you’re sweating or swimming, this can wear of the sunscreen, and it naturally wears off on its own anyway. To remain protected for the entire day, reapply your sunscreen every 2-4 hours.
- Don’t: Depend on your sunscreen whilst in the water
When you’re swimming outdoors for a long time, you may notice that your skin tends to burn much more easily, and this is because your sunscreen is wearing off. Although some sunscreens may claim to be ‘water-resistant’, they can only be so for a maximum of 80 minutes in the water before wearing off, so don’t stay underwater for too long and reapply when you get out.
- Do: Take regular breaks from the Sun
Not only to protect your skin from excessive heat, but also to protect your body in general, make sure to take regular breaks from the Sun and get out of the intense heat for a short time every once in a while. It’ll give your skin a break, and it’ll give your body a chance to cool down and prevent sunstroke. Remember to drink plenty of water, too.
- Don’t: Expose yourself to the Sun immediately after applying sunscreen
If you’re using a chemical sunscreen, it works by penetrating the skin and spreading its UV filters around in the upper layers of skin cells to absorb any UV rays as they enter. However, it takes around 20 minutes for your sunscreen to penetrate, so you’ll need to wait around 20-30 minutes before exposing yourself to the Sun after applying sunscreen if it’s a chemical sunscreen formula.
- Do: Choose a reef-safe sunscreen when swimming
This doesn’t protect you, as such, but it does protect our planet which is something incredibly important. Choose a sunscreen which has a reef-safe formula if you’re planning on going in the sea, as this means there are no harsh chemicals which could damage the coral reefs when the sunscreen washes into the water, and our coral reefs suffer lots from harmful sunscreens otherwise.
- Don’t: Rely on products with built-in SPF to protect you
You may have bought a foundation or face powder that claims to protect you from the sun, too, and it may have SPF 30 or something similar written on the bottle. While this may reassure you, be aware that these products will often be less effective than an actual sunscreen, and you should still apply a regular sunscreen underneath them.
- Do: Apply an after-sun lotion in the evening
You may have seen after-sun lotions and gels in the supermarket or drugstore, and they’re definitely worth the investment. Many people use these products after they’ve suffered from sunburn, but they’re a great way to cool down your skin after any sun exposure anyway, even if you’re not burnt. Just apply in the evening, once out of the Sun for the day.
- Don’t: Leave your sunscreen out in the heat
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is leaving their sunscreen out in the heat, whether that be exposed to the Sun on the beach, or tucked in a hot, stuffy car, you should always store your sunscreen somewhere cool and shaded. Otherwise, the formula will break down inside the bottle and it’s won’t work anywhere near as effectively as it should.
- Do: Consider using a self-tanner instead
If you’re a fair-skinned person and you can’t tan no matter what, or perhaps you’re just not interested in risking your skin for a suntan, a self-tanner may be a good recommendation for you instead. These products are great for giving you a completely customisable tan, come in a variety of different formulas, and they take less than a day. Plus, you avoid the damage of being out suntanning, and you can focus on just keeping your skin protected when in the Sun, instead.
- Don’t: Use low SPF tanning oils
Lastly, many people fall into the trap of using low SPF tanning oils whilst they’re out in the Sun, as these products claim to protect you whilst accelerating the tanning process. However, they provide something around SPF 6 protection, which is nowhere near enough, especially when you’re out for the day, and only leave your sin damaged. If you’re looking to accelerate your tan, use a self-tanner instead, along with an adequate SPF.