How much sun is safe for your skin?

The pleasant end of summer is finally here. Oh, how time flies! Didn’t it seem like it was only yesterday when stepping into the scorching heat was the last thing you wanted to do? But now you’re feeling all outdoorsy! The park beckons for a relaxing stroll. That barbeque brunch on the roof seems so tempting. And those day trips to the beach, how we love them! As the mercury level drops, letting your guard down against the sun comes naturally. But… is it safe?

The best Vitamin D tonic under the sun

It’s no secret that sunlight has its benefits. So there’s no harm in a little indulgence under the sun. “In fact, the early morning sunshine helps stimulate the production of Vitamin D in your body,” says Dr. Mona Saleh from the kaya skin clinic team. If you’ve got strong and healthy bones, muscles and teeth, it’s Vitamin D at work. Sure you can choose to pop those Vitamin D supplements instead. But if you can get your dose of Vitamin D the natural way, why wouldn’t you? Now that doesn’t mean you bask in the sun all day long. Too much of anything is bad for you. So you must keep a tab on the amount of time you spend outdoors, even when you’re wearing sunscreen. “UV levels are at their highest power between 10 am and 4 pm,” says Dr. Saleh. So it’s best to avoid the sun during this time.

Ban the (artificial) tan

 Put on a wristwatch and spend an hour in the sun. Take it off when you’re indoors. Makes your wrist appear like a section of a shade card, doesn’t it? Sun damage begins with a tan. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of beautiful skin as you know it. Prolonged tanning is what you should avoid. That skin-kissed glow is fashionable these days, and they say it makes you look desirable and fresh. You might have even considered tanning products or skin tanning services. “But it’s always good to go the old fashioned way,” says Dr. Saleh. You can acquire the perfect bronzed look under the sun. But don’t do so without applying a generous amount of sunscreen first. You’re looking for desirable skin, not skin damage. Wear a hat and sunglasses for an extra layer of protection, and stay hydrated. Once you’re done, use a moisturiser that contains Aloe Vera to soothe your skin. And don’t overdo it. Because whether you acquire it naturally or artificially, too much tanning is going to do you no good.

Melanin at work

Have you ever been introduced to your skin cells? They’re really smart. When the sun beats down on them, they sense danger and respond by producing the pigment melanin in excessive quantities to avoid any damage from penetrating deeper into your skin. Unfortunately, this leads to skin darkening. Now when melanin is distributed unevenly, it shows up as pigmented skin. But that’s not the end of the damage. The longer you’re exposed to the sun, the more prone your skin becomes to freckles, redness and dullness. Over time, ageing will take over. You wouldn’t want your picture perfect appearance to be marred by these now, would you? But if you thought that these skin conditions are probably the worst things that could happen to your skin, think again. Extensive damage goes way beyond. All the way to skin cancer. And overexposure to UV radiation is one of its leading causes.

The best shield your skin could ask for – Sunscreen

 Sure you know that! You could reach into your bag at this very moment and whip out that bottle of sunscreen you carry around everywhere. After all, in the face of sun exposure and skin damage, sunscreen is your only ray of hope. But are you wearing sunscreen correctly? And are you using the right product for your skin type? Dr. Saleh busts some common sunscreen related myths.

The myth: You don’t need sunscreen indoors.

The truth: Glass windows, floor tiles and glass doors are capable of reflecting UV light. It may be indirect exposure but there is exposure. So you do need sunscreen even when you’re indoors, unless you’re locked up in a room that’s completely devoid of natural light.

The myth: You’ve got to go easy on sunscreen if you’ve got oily skin.

The truth: Oily skin, normal skin or sensitive skin… whatever your skin type is, there is a product for you out there. So make sure you read the label and pick up the best suited sunscreen for your skin type.

The myth: You can give sunscreen a break during winter.

The truth: You need sunscreen even on a cloudy day. UV radiation can reach you during winter and can also penetrate through clouds during the monsoon. So ditching sunscreen is a big no-no.

“When it comes to sunscreens, the best practice is to apply a generous amount 30 minutes before you step into the sun. Reapplying it every two hours will give you the most effective protection,” says Dr. Saleh. Also, the higher the SPF level of the sunscreen, the longer protection you will get. A minimum SPF of 30 should have you covered.

So how much sun is safe?

Let’s look at it this way. How much sun do you need to avoid a Vitamin D deficiency? 20 minutes of the early morning sun. So make sure you soak up all the goodness the sun can offer you within this time. If you absolutely must spend more time than this, don’t do so without sunscreen, a hat and your sunglasses. After all, that sun-kissed glow will only look prettier on skin that’s not damaged by overexposure to the sun.

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