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How to Protect Aging Skin from the Sun


Even if we’re not sunbathing on a beach somewhere, our skin is still exposed to the sun at this time of year. Doing work in the garden, going for a walk, or going to the shops, it all adds up. Sun damage is the leading cause of skin cancer, yet statistics show a quarter of American’s still doesn’t wear sunscreen in the summer.

Sun exposure is also the biggest culprit when it comes to skin aging. Dr. Anjali Mahto is a Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson. “The sun consists of multiple wavelengths of light and both UVA and UVB rays can penetrate and damage the skin,” she explains. “UVB rays are stronger in the summer and are the main cause of sunburn, whereas UVA rays are less intense but present all year round.” These UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause signs of aging such as the appearance of pigmentation.

Let the sun shine.

Spending time outdoors in the fresh air is key to our good health – we just need to take sensible precautions. UVB rays play an important role in encouraging our bodies to produce Vitamin D. This is crucial for keeping our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.

Vitamin D is so important the National Institute of Health is now urging us all to take a Vitamin D supplement, over concerns that we’re spending less time outside due to Covid-19. The sun is also important for our mental health.

“Studies show that decreased sun exposure causes a drop in serotonin (the happy hormone), which has been linked to depression,” explains Charlotte Vøhtz, founder of Green People. Whether you’re spending time in your garden or heading out on a daily walk, a dose of sunshine will work wonders for your health.”

So, how do we stay sun safe and healthy? The good news is the time needed for our bodies to make adequate levels of Vitamin D is shorter than it takes for our skin to burn. Dermatologists recommend that for fair skin, just a few minutes in the middle of the day without sunscreen is enough. You’ll need a slightly longer exposure if you have darker skin, so it’s important to know how your skin tolerates the sun. Most importantly, don’t allow your skin to redden and burn.

Be sun smart.

  • Use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or above.
  • Look for the UVA circle logo, or at least a four-star UVA rating.
  • Apply at least two teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re just covering your head, arms, and neck. 
  • Apply at least two tablespoons if you’re covering your whole body while wearing a swimming costume. 
  • For prolonged sun exposure, apply 30 minutes before going out and then again just beforehand. 
  • Don’t forget your neck, ears, and your head. 
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Reapply liberally and frequently — at least every two hours — and straight after swimming or exercise.

Crack the code.

Protect your face.

Face cream with SPF might be sufficient in the depths of winter, but summer calls for a stronger defense. “Make-up with SPF is generally not applied thickly enough to get the SPF it states on the label,” warns Dr. Mahto. “By the middle of the day when UV levels are highest, it will have rubbed off and lost efficacy. It’s better to use a high-factor sunscreen for your face and re-apply regularly.”

This article appeared on our sister site, Yours.

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