Care for your skin in the Summer Sun

children applying sunscreen

Growing up, I never used sunscreen. It just wasn’t something we were taught, especially because it was normal for my dad to turn a darker shade of brown after playing long summer soccer games in the intense and humid summer heat. I followed suit, also tanning nicely after being out in the sun for a solid 30 minutes.

My mother and her sisters on the other hand have extremely light complexions, leading to them turning into lobsters with just a few kisses of sunlight.  I laughed at my mother’s red nose and winced at my aunts painful looking neck line.

It wasn’t until I was a bit older and outside all the time in my aunt and uncle’s pools in the summer that my mom would tell them to make me put sun screen on – just in case.

The amount of melanin that someone has in their skin does play a major part in skin cancer risk, states the Skin Cancer Foundation.  According to the website, melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the U.S. and although it accounts for less than two percent of all skin cancer cases, it is the cause of the majority of skin cancer deaths.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of developing melanoma varies between ethnicities with Caucasians developing it at a 3-5 times higher rate than Native Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 15-25 times higher than Latinos and African-Americans.  However, people of color can still develop melanoma.

As the largest organ on our bodies, it’s hard to ignore the look and feel of your skin over time. Regardless of your skin color or amount of melanin it contains, there are steps that you should be taking to ensure that your skin stays vibrant and prevent any future skin problems. Here are some considerations from the Mayo Clinic.

  1. Don’t smoke. And if you do, quit. Smoking makes your skin look older because it narrows the tiny blood vessels in the skin, decreasing blood flow and making skin look paler. It also depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients important for healthy skin.
  2. Manage stress. Did you know that uncontrolled stress may trigger breakouts and other skin problems? Stress, especially if it’s uncontrolled, makes your skin more sensitive. To promote healthy skin and a more balanced mental state, take steps to manage your stress.
  3. Protect yourself from the sun: First and foremost, protecting yourself from the sun can help to prevent wrinkles, age spots, other skin problems and decrease your risk for skin cancer.
    • Remember to use sunscreen, applying at least a 15 SPF solution generously ever two hours.
    • Wear protective clothing. My grandparents and people in Mexico, known for being farmers, always wore long sleeved white, cotton shirts to protect themselves from the burning sun. It’s still common in many agricultural communities. Wearing tightly woven long-sleeved shirts will allow for your skin to breathe while putting an extra layer between you at the sun rays.
    • There’s nothing wrong with sitting in the shade when you’re outside! Avoid the sun when the rays are the strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  4. Eat a healthy diet. By drinking plenty of water, you’ll keep your skin hydrated. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Some research has suggested that a diet rich in fish oil or fish oil supplements may help to promote younger looking skin.
  5. Be gentle with your skin. Although your skin care process is good, it might take a toll on your skin. Here are a few things that you can do to keep it gentle:
    • After washing or bathing yourself, do no rub the towels along your skin. Instead, pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that moisture stays in your skin.
    • If you have dry skin, consider using a moisturizer that fits your skin type. If you’re using it daily, consider using a moisturizer that contains an SPF.
    • Limit the amount of time you’re in hot water. Both hot water and long showers remove oils from your skin. Use warm water rather than hot.
    • Avoid strong soaps. The more natural, the better. Strong soaps and detergents can also strip oil from your skin. Use mild cleansers instead.
    • When you shave, be sure to protect your skin by keeping it lubricated. Apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving and use clean sharp razors for a close shave. Shave in the direction the hair grows.

Are there any routines that you do that helps your skin shine bright? Tell us in the comments below.

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