If you are planning a summer holiday, you are probably already imagining your bronzed skin and the healthy glow that will remind you (and others) of your break for at least a couple of weeks after you return. Despite the fact that we all know the dangers of sun damage, us Brits can’t resist getting a tan. The fact is, that a healthy tan does generally make you look and feel better and it’s good for you, too. The sun gives you precious vitamin D, which we need for healthy bones and teeth. In fact, studies show that pregnant and breast-feeding women who don’t get enough sun are unable to give their babies enough vitamin D, which can lead to problems in the future.
However, sunburn can make you feel miserable – it hurts, and can prevent you from enjoying your holiday. As with many things, being out in the sun is a matter of balance; that healthy glow really is good for you, but sunburn can seriously damage your skin and even your health. To help you to get that balance and make the most of your holiday, Travangelo have put together some top sun protection tips to make sure you do it safely and sensibly, avoiding the burn.
Apply Sun Cream
Wearing sun-cream is a no-brainer, and it should be part of your daily routine. Most face moisturisers come with SPF 15, but remember to protect children, too. Throughout the summer, make sure you apply sunscreen to children first thing in the morning, before school or at least 15 minutes before they go out in the sun. Re-apply every two hours and after swimming – remember, sunscreen works best if it is applied at least 15 minutes before you go out in the sun. Make sure you apply sun cream thoroughly: back of the neck, ears, shoulders, and that you remember to add a little more if you change into different clothes or go swimming (just in case you missed a bit!).
Know Your UVAs from your UVBs
There are a range of different sun protection factors (SPF). The SPF relates to UVB rays – Ultra Violet B. These are the rays that make you tan (or burn); they can also cause cancer. SPF factor indicates how successfully the cream blocks the sun’s UVB rays – factor 15 offers up to 15 times your skin’s usual protection, 30 is 30 times, and so on. However, over the last twenty years, research identified another type of UV ray – UVA (Ultra Violet A). Although UVA rays don’t cause sunburn, they can cause cancer and it is thought that most skin changes associated with aging are caused by UVA rays, not UVB. Now we need our sun protection to do two jobs: protect from UVA and UVB rays.
Not all sunscreens offer UVA protection, even big brands. It is important that you double-check the label of even your favourite brand and make sure that you are choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen – this will provide UVA and UVB protection. If it’s not broad-spectrum, it won’t protect your skin from harmful UVA rays.
Which Sun Cream?
Choosing a sun cream is a personal choice and will depend on your skin type, how active you are, and any allergies. Some sun creams can sting or burn – children can be particularly susceptible to this, and nothing ruins a beach holiday more than a crying child! First, check that a cream has the right SPF factor and that it is broad-spectrum. Then check the ingredients for allergens – PABA (para-aminobenzioc acid is a common culprit). Finally, look for other qualities: water-based cream if you are prone to oily skin, water-resistant cream if you are planning on swimming, 12-hour creams if you want the peace of mind of knowing you are protected all day. Finding the right sun protection can take a little trial and error, so try out different ones to see which one works best for you.
Again, a no-brainer: if you are prone to sunburn or feel that you have had enough sun, cover up. Wear a hat whenever you can, and bring light, cotton clothes or UV-protecting clothes to give your skin a break from the sun. Remember, even if you are wearing long sleeves, some clothes only offer SPF 8, so apply sunscreen under your clothes, too. Where possible, seek shade, especially if you have babies and young children. The shade won’t protect kids completely and they will still get plenty of vitamin D, but without the risk of burning.
Your eyes need sun protection, too. UV rays can damage the delicate skin around your eyes and can even lead to sight problems in the future. Cheap glasses don’t necessarily cut it; look for sunglasses with UVA & B protection.
It is difficult to emphasise just how important it is to stay hydrated when you are on holiday. Aside from the fact that you are probably unused to the heat and the sun, you are likely to sweat more. In addition, on holiday it is easy to forget your healthy home habits of drinking plenty of water, choosing instead to drink coffee, beer and cold fizzy drinks. Even if you don’t feel as though you are sweating, you will lose more water in warm temperatures which can worsen sunburn and lead to heatstroke, so make sure you always have a bottle of water to hand, and have a glass of water alongside caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.
Sunburn is no laughing matter and can ruin your holiday, making you feel miserable as well as putting your skin at risk of future issues. If you do start to feel as though you are burning, cover up and seek shade immediately. Take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen as soon as you can – this can help to reduce the inflammation as well as alleviate the pain. Treat sunburn as you would any other burn: try to cool the skin (ice packs and cool baths are ideal), and drink plenty of cold water. There are lots of natural sunburn remedies that work to varying degrees: some people swear by adding porridge oats or teabags to the bath and Aloe Vera is known for its burn-soothing qualities. Applying non-greasy creams, such as Aloe Vera gel can undoubtedly help, but avoid oil-based creams as they will heat up on your skin and can increase pain. If you or a family member start to blister, develop a high temperature, or experience dizziness, seek medical assistance – these could be signs of heat exhaustion.
Nothing makes you feel quite as foolish as bright red skin! Failing to use sun protection is so counterproductive: if you burn, the chances are you will peel in a week anyway! So, cover up, be sensible and avoid sunburn so that you can enjoy your holiday adventures without embarrassment or discomfort.
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