There’s no doubt that spending time in the sun is one of the greatest summertime pleasures, be that poolside, at the beach, or simply enjoying the fresh air in your own backyard. But while exposure to sunlight is great for boosting Vitamin D levels, it can take a toll on everything from your skin to your hair and nails. To that end, we checked in with four experts for advice on how to best protect yourself while out and about this season.
BEFORE YOU HEAD OUTSIDE
For optimal protection, follow a three-step plan. As we all know, unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays increases your likelihood for developing skin cancer. To minimize your risk, Dr. Megan Bogart of Milam Bogart Dermatology in Sarasota, Florida, recommends a multi-faceted sun protection routine that includes avoiding the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), wearing sun-protective clothing, and applying sunscreen on a daily basis.
Know how to choose the right sunscreen. With so many options out there, sussing out the right sunscreen can be tricky. Bogart breaks it down simply: “There are three essentials when it comes to choosing the right sunscreen,” she explains. “It must be an SPF of 30 or higher, have broad spectrum coverage (UVA/UVB), and be water resistant.” Additionally, she notes, it’s helpful to understand that there are two types of sunscreen, and each protects you differently:
Chemical sunscreens work like a sponge, absorbing the sun’s rays. They contain one or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, or octinoxate.
Physical sunscreens, also known as mineral sunscreens, act like a shield. Sitting on the surface of your skin, they deflect the sun’s rays.They contain the active ingredients titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or both.
Select a product that prevents and repairs sun damage. There are now sunscreens on the market that not only help prevent sun damage, but aid in reversing it. For facial use, Bogart’s favorite sunscreen is Neova Silc Sheer 2.0 or Eryfotona by Isdin. “Both of these sunscreens provide broad spectrum, water resistant coverage, but what makes them unique is that they contain an enzyme called photolyase,” she says. “Photolyase has been shown to help repair sun-related DNA damage on a person’s skin.” These products are best used on a daily basis, she says, because even if you are not outside, the sunscreen is working to repair existing damage on your skin that can lead to skin cancer development.
Apply like a pro. In order for sunscreen to work, proper application is key. According to Bogart, it should be applied at least 15 minutes before sun exposure, with enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Bogart estimates that most adults need about a tablespoon for their face and a golf ball-size amount for the entire body. Think applying once is enough? Guess again. “For maximum protection, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating,” she says.
Remember that sun exposure affects more than just skin. While we’re all aware of the toll that the sun can take on our skin, sometimes we fail to consider that it can also be hard on our nails and hair. To that end, the following steps can help keep you in top form from head to toe:
Protect your manicures and pedicures. If you’re planning on spending the day at the pool, prepare your nails by applying an extra coat of top coat to your mani or pedi. “Chlorinated water can dry out your nails and cuticles,” Dolores Novak and Andrea Fascinetto, co-owners at Prose Nail Salon in San Antonio, Texas, explain. “Applying a cuticle oil before and after a pool day will save your nails, too.”
Give your locks some TLC. According to Rachel Eggie, owner of Eggie Salon Studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sun can cause damage to colored as well as uncolored hair, and it’s important to protect your hair when you’re enjoying the ocean and pools as well as when you’re in the sun. “Before you’re out in the elements, apply a leave-in conditioner that will close the cuticle and prevent chlorine or unwanted minerals from entering the hair,” Eggie recommends, noting that she likes to use Kevin Murphy Un.Tangled Leave-In Conditioning Spray. Post-swim, she suggests always using a detoxifying shampoo (choose one without alcohol, which can be drying, like Kevin Murphy Maxi.Wash) to remove chlorine and salt, and follow up with your regular shampoo and conditioner.
AFTER A DAY OUT
Soothe when you overdo it. Despite our best efforts, sometimes sunburns still occur. If you do accidentally skimp on the SPF, Marti Combs, owner of MCESquared Skincare in Boise, Idaho, recommends turning to cool water, cool compresses, and rehydrating your body by drinking cool water and electrolytes if necessary. “Treat your skin with an aloe-based lightweight moisturizer without alcohol in it,” she says, such as her specially formulated MCE2 products Fresh Cleanser, Refresh Hydramist, Phoenix Serum, and The One, which are perfect for replenishing skin, healing environmentally damaged skin, and/or post-sun exposure. Avoid any lotions that are heavy and or occlusive because they can trap heat into your skin.
Be especially mindful of fresh water. If you’re spending time at a lake or river this summer, whether that be boating, skiing, or swimming, Combs stresses that it’s important to be mindful that you’re dealing with more than water in the water. Even the cleanest looking bodies of water can harbor environmental runoff, bacteria, and algae blooms. Always cleanse your skin as soon as possible with soap and water after spending a day at the lake or river.
TSG Tip 393 from Dr. Megan Bogart, of Milam Bogart Dermatology in Sarasota, Florida; Dolores Novak and Andrea Fascinetto, co-owners at Prose Nail Salon in San Antonio, Texas; Marti Combs, owner of MCESquared Skincare in Boise, Idaho; and Rachel Eggie, owner of Eggie Salon Studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Milam Bogart Dermatology is featured in The Scout Guide Sarasota, Anna Maria Island to Boca Grande. Prose Nail Salon is featured in The Scout Guide San Antonio. MCESquared Skincare is featured in The Scout Guide Boise. Eggie Salon Studio is featured in The Scout Guide Baton Rouge.