Let’s talk sunscreen. If this little bottle of liquid force-field isn’t your fav beach bag accessory, you should consider re-organizing your beaching priorities. Not only is it a must-have for you to maintain your healthy summer glow, but it’s absolutely vital to keeping your skin beautiful and looking younger for longer. We love to haul everything we own for a nice, long day at the beach. And let’s be honest, after packing the car full of umbrellas, coolers, beach toys, sandwiches, and children (you didn’t forget those, did you?), you’re going to want to stay out there for a long time to make it worth your time and efforts. (Plus, we know you’re DYING to show off that brand new Luli Fama strappy brazilian bikini you just bought.) To make sure your skin doesn’t suffer in the process, there are plenty of ways to prolong your fun in the sun in a safe, skin-conscious way.
1. Know your sunscreen ingredients: Avoid using sunscreens that promise unrealistic expectations. Much like you wouldn’t buy pricey bikinis from a boutique that did not assure you the best in designer swimwear, you should not rely on a sunscreen based merely on what the bottle claims. Lately, there has been an uprising of sunscreens that promise that their ‘special ingredient’ will slow down the effects of sun-aging. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But look closely. That ‘special ingredient’ is a Vitamin-A compound that has been proven to actually speed up the development of skin cancers and lesions. Yikes. Obviously, vitamins are good for you, but put in the incorrect formula and they may be doing more damage than good. Long story, short: avoid using anything that is risky or has yet to be proven completely healthy or helpful.
2. Understanding UVB vs UVA: The highest number on the sunscreen shelf does not necessarily mean the best protection. Most sunscreens boast a very high UVB protection, aka, they protect you from getting that oh-so-painful-and-later-itchy-and-even-later-peeling sunburn. It is definitely a must to be shielded from those harmful burning rays. But what most sunscreens DON’T tell you is that they have very low UVA ray protection, and these are the bad boys you really need to be concerned about. The highest cause of skin cancers and wrinkles are from these nasty rays, and your skin isn’t being saved from them by ordinary sunscreen bottles. (To be clear, extended exposure to both types of rays is harmful and can lead to skin cancer, so limit your time out there in addition to finding the right liquid shield.)
3. Don’t rely on the sunscreen to do all the work: While your bottle of body-bronzing bliss is going to help you stay looking younger longer, it cannot be solely responsible for this task. You can protect yourself in other ways. Sometimes, just packing and unpacking the car takes long enough for the sun’s rays to zero in on your precious skin cells. Since you’re moving around, you may not notice the intensity, and it’s always better to stay covered in those moments. (Don’t worry – cover ups are no longer big, floppy and shapeless mu-mus like they used to be.) Find a kimono, romper, cover-up or tunic to keep your skin covered when you’re out and about. If you prefer to participate in land-related events under the sun (roller-blading, biking, hiking, etc) it is always recommended to wear a hat to cover your head, ears, and face. Find a functional, practical hat for sport-playing or shop fashionable designer beach hats for more relaxing fun in the sun.
4. Treat your sunscreen like a precious possession: (Notice I did not say ‘like your baby.’ Please do not forego parenting in order to become a sunblock caretaker – your kids are much more important.) Sunscreen has an expiration date, and just like any medication, drastically loses efficacy after said date. Leaving your sunblock out in the sun for extended periods of time makes it less effective as well. So, while you’re there, laying out and showing off your sexy Maaji Swimwear crop top bikini, your sunscreen is slowly melting and losing its ability to save your skin cells from further damage. Just keep it in the ol’ beach bag when not in use!
5. You’re the one that knows your body best: Know your own limits when it comes to spending time in direct sunlight. I will be the first to tell you that the sand is my second couch. But I have red flags and loud sirens that go off in my brain when I’ve been in the sun too long, and I have learned to listen to them. Besides, there is no shame in bringing your umbrella along for intermingled bouts in the shade to give your skin a break. Sunscreen is an excellent (and vital!) accessory to bring with you to the beach, but remember to put your skin and your health first – even before that so-called ‘Vitamin D deficiency.’
Have other sunscreen tips or secrets? Stories to share? Let us know in the comments below!