Undoubtedly, a spot of sunbathing gives you a glowing tan that can make you look and feel good, but remember that you are under attack from heat and ultraviolet rays. Sunlight breaks down collagen and elastin fibres and damages the skin cells (UVA rays lead to ageing, UVB to burning), and while olive skin is less at risk from damage, it still requires a sunscreen. As Dr David Orentreich, Clinique’s guiding dermatologist says: ‘The single worst thing you can do to your skin is overexpose it to the sun. Ninety per cent of the damage seen on the skin in the form of ageing (lines, wrinkles, discoloration) is due to sun exposure.’
LIFE’S A BEACH
While most of us are well acquainted with the dangers ofthe sun, we are less aware ofthe dangers of the water. A dip in the ocean may be an instant refresher but if you’re not careful it can add to the frying factor on the beach:
1 Never dry off naturally after a swim. Water droplets act as mini magnifying glasses and intensify the strength of the sun’s rays.
2 Always take a shower immediately after a swim. Remember that sea water contains salt and pool water contains chemicals, both of which are very drying for the skin.
3 Protect your hair. Daily dips in salt water and chlorine will wreak havoc on your locks, so invest in a hair product that contains a protective layer of silicone, as well as UV protection. This will act as a sealant, to keep colour and condition in, and salt and chemicals out.
4 Increase your sun protection factor (SPF). Whetheryou’re water-skiing or simply relaxing on a boat, the reflection of the sun’s glare is a serious threat to your skin. Use a waterproof sunscreen and reapply it regularly, particularly after swimming.
5 Always sit in the shade. Wear sunglasses with UV protection whenever you are on or near the water to avoid damage to your eyes from the reflected glare. Attach your sunglasses with a cord around your neck so that you won’t lose them if you fall in.
SAFE SUN TIPS
1 Always wear a moisturizer with a sun protection factor (SPF), even on a cloudy day.
2 Apply your sunscreen 15 minutes before hitting the sun to give it time to be absorbed.
3 Make sure your sunscreen is broad spectrum and contains both UVA and UVB protection. Look for chemical ingredients such as avobenzone, which absorbs and deactivates rays, or physical ingredients such as titanium dioxide, which blocks the rays and bounces them away from the skin, so that they are no longer dangerous. (Don’t worry-today’s products have been refined, so they won’t leave you looking like a snowman.)
4 Reapply your sunscreen regularly, not just after swimming. Rememberthat even a waterproof lotion can be rubbed off by your towel.
5 Know your SPFs. Everybody can stay out in the sun for an average of five to ten minutes without burning; the number on the bottle indicates how much you can multiply this by when protected by the sunscreen. Remember that SPFs are not cumulative – rubbing in a factor 10 on top of a factor 20 does not give you SPF 30.
6 Wear a higher SPF on your face than on your body, as this is the area you will most want to protect from ageing.
7 Have moles checked regularly, particularly any that appear after exposure to the sun.
8 Always wear sunglasses with UV-filtered lenses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun.