Being sun safe doesn’t mean avoiding the outdoors completely – but it does mean taking sensible precautions. Cayman-based dermatologist Dr. Rebecca de Miguel shares her top tips for best all round sun protection.
The choice of sunscreens out there is mind-boggling – so how do you choose the best one? The right one for you is not necessarily the best one for the next person. It depends on your skin type and sensitivity, so read the label – front and back – to be sure it contains all the good stuff and none of the bad.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Chemical or physical: Both are effective but physical (or mineral) sunscreens cause fewer allergic reactions so are a better choice for children, pregnant women and people with sensitive skin.
UVA + UVB: look for an SPF of 30 or higher for UVB protection, as well as the broad spectrum label for UVA protection.
Double duty: Some sunscreens contain skin-repairing enzymes, so you can fix past blunders at the same time as protecting you from current overexposure. Sesderma and Isdin are good brands to look for.
The bad guys: Avoid ingredients such as oxybenzone (causes allergic reactions), avobenzone (causes allergic reactions and is a known hormone disruptor) and methylisothiazolinone (a preservative that commonly causes contact dermatitis).
Plenty and often is the key: A single application of sunscreen should be about a shot glass’s worth of cream. As the active ingredients break down in the sun, that amount should be reapplied every two hours and always after swimming.
Chemical sunscreens aren’t effective for the first 20 minutes after application – so make sure you wait, as you’ll be totally unprotected until the science kicks in.
MORE THAN SKIN DEEP
You can nourish your skin’s natural defenses from the inside out. Foods that are high in antioxidants can help enzymes repair damage from over exposure to the sun and boost your skin’s natural protection. Ramp up your intake of lycopene, betacarotene, vitamin C and omega 3s, by loading your grocery trolley with tomatoes, carrots, green tea, dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables, oily fish and walnuts.
Take it a step further and add an oral antioxidant to your sun protection routine. Polipodium leucotomos is a leaf extract that reduces inflammation and free radicals induced by UV exposure. Just pop a tablet before a day out in the sun – but don’t forget the sunscreen.
HATS, SHADE & SHIRTS
Physically cover up: Wear a hat to protect your scalp and sunglasses with UV filters for your eyes. If you’re spending prolonged periods outdoors, invest in UPF shirts, shorts and more.
For more information contact:
Dr. Rebeca De Miguel
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