1st Feb 2017 - Style
The Sun and Your Skin
We love to feel the sun’s warming rays on our skin. Sunshine has been proven to lift mood by boosting the body’s levels of serotonin, increase energy levels, and reduce our risk from a number of ailments. We also get most of our vitamin D (vital for healthy bones, teeth and muscles) from exposure to the sun’s UVB rays. But despite the many benefits of sunshine there is also a delicate balance that needs to be struck with regards to caring for our skin.
A life lived in shorts is a good one, and being in, on, and around the ocean is even better. The cooling waves and sea breeze can however inhibit our ability to notice just how hot the sun is on our skin, and we all need to be proactive in protecting our body’s largest organ, you can definitely have too much of a good thing.
To help you keep your skin healthy in the sun we asked our friend, skincare expert Sarah Carr, for her top tips for time spent safely soaking up the sun, whatever the season.
The skin is our body’s largest organ and when we expose it to sun and the sea there are simple things we can do to protect ourself, ensuring we are left safe and feeling good.
I’ve grown up in a surfing family and have first-hand experience of the effects of too much sun and sea; here are some tried and tested hints and tips from myself and my family.
Keeping your skin clean is the foundation of great skin. Cleansing is no longer seen as just a make up removal process for females, as our environment is changing with increasing levels of pollution and more people using mineral creams that our skin needs help to remove, thus allowing our skin to breathe and repair.
Using a cream based cleanser and cloth will ensure you remove all dirt, pollution and SPF. The cream base helps breakdown surface dirt and the cloth gently removes the cleanser, SPF and any dead skin cells that make our skin look dull and feel tight. Using a exfoliating face wash is great a couple of times a week to give the skin a deeper cleanse and remove dead skin cells, but check your products- if you use an exfoliating face wash then ensure that they are free from microplastics and microbeads as these are washed back into the ocean and consumed by sea life, ultimately coming back to haunt us
Fact - If someone eats six oysters, it is likely they will have eaten 50 particles of microplastics.
Top Tip - Get into a routine with your cleansing you’ll soon see the results of a smoother brighter skin.
Keeping our body and skin hydrated with water and products is vital to feeling great and keeps the skin supple. We should aim to drink approximately 2-3 litres of water per day. The best way to start the day is with a pint of warm or cool water with half a lemon squeezed in; this will boost energy, help flush toxins from the body and is a great source of vitamin C. Throughout the day try to keep a (glass or metal) bottle of water with you. There are some great ones available to buy, and I like the BKR bottle as they have a sleeve to prevent breakage. I also recycle big glass olive oil bottles or larger glass water bottles- not only do they save you buying plastic bottles but they are easy to wash and re-use.
For your skin, choose an alcohol free skin tonic. These are brilliant, especially in-between surfs when the skin can feel tight from sun, sea and sun cream.
Moisturise your skin after you’ve cleansed. Your moisturiser acts as “skin food” which will replenish and feed the skin especially after been exposed to the sun and sea all day. When choosing your moisturiser understanding your skin type helps. Generally, men’s skin tends to be oilier so opting for a light weight lotion will give you the right amount of hydration without being too rich for your skin.
Top Tip- If you aren’t a fan of plain water, add your favourite fruit/herbs to the water like orange, lime, cucumber or mint.
Mine and my brother’s eyes get irritated when we are in and out of the sea and using SPF. My must have beach/board bag essentials are Liz Earle’s Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion and cotton pads. Soak the cotton pads in Eyebright and wipe over the eye area, you can leave on for a compress to soothe and cool. I’ve sent this product all over the world to friends who are surfers.
Top Tip- if you haven’t got Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion try wrapping an ice cube in a clean cloth and gently wiping over tired irritated eyes or use the classic cucumber slices straight from the fridge.
Protect your skin! SPF is vital regardless of your skin type or colour. I prefer mineral SPF as it reflects the sun’s rays away from your skin a little bit like wearing a suit of mirrors. Look for brands that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. I always use a zinc stick across my nose, cheeks and forehead when I’m in warmer climates to protect my skin.
If like me, you are an ocean lover another reason to use mineral SPF is some chemical SPFs contain an ingredient called oxybenzone. A study published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology said, "Oxybenzone is an 'emerging contaminant of concern in the marine environment." The researchers found that a small dollop of sunscreen in six Olympic-sized pools is enough to cause a disruption of coral growth. The team also found that oxybenzone causes planula (the larval form of coral) to harden and be stuck inside their individual skeletons. Oxybenzone kills corals and contributes to the increasing rate of coral bleaching, wherein the coral eject the algae that live inside their tissues. This causes the corals to turn white due to the loss of algal pigmentation. Across the globe, almost 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions are released into the coral reef annually. The oxybenzone content can range from 1 to 10 percent.
You can read more about the issue of the impact of sunscreens on corals here; it's an interesting read and has certainly made me read my labels.To get the most out of your SPF apply to clean skin approximately 20 minutes before you head out into the sun. Reapply your SPF regularly- this will depend on the brand; I always recommend to reapply when you come out of the water and have dried off.
Top Tip- go mineral and reapply regularly to protect both your skin and the marine environment.
We’ve all been there and had a little too much sun, but having a couple of key ingredients ready can help to ease the effects of too much sun. Look for an after sun that contains high levels of aloe vera or have an aloe vera plant to hand to apply directly to the skin. If using the plant, slit several big leaves down the middle, not cutting all the way through. Spread them flat, and lay on your burn. You can also squeeze the gel out and apply to sore areas. I always have an aloe vera plant at home- great for hydrating skin or treating oven burns!
Yogurt is one of my personal favourites as a great after sun. Apply cool yogurt directly to your burnt areas, and let it sit for at least 5 minutes, gently rinse it off with cool or tepid water.
Top Tip- keep your after sun in the fridge so when you apply its instantly cooling and soothing.