After several months spent enduring the cold weather and gloomy days, it’s only natural to want to make the most of the sunny spring days ahead. But before settling in on the terrace, here are a few tips to protect your skin.
Take food supplementsFood supplements can be taken in the weeks leading up to the warmer weather to prepare the body for sun exposure. They can help your body resist the negative effects of UV rays. Why? Because they are rich in antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E, zinc, and selenium), which helps prevent premature skin aging. They are especially recommended for people with lighter skin tones, who are prone to sunburns, and for people with sun allergies. Note that these food supplements do not offer protection against sunburns!
Add colour to your plateA diet rich in carotene and vitamin E is also recommended leading up to sun exposure. A greater consumption of these foods could improve your body’s defence against UV rays on skin. How can you tell which fruits and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene? Look for colour! Carrots, kale, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, tomatoes, oranges, mangoes, and apricots are good sources of carotenoids, known for their antioxidant properties. For a good dose of vitamin E, think vegetable oil, almonds, and nuts this summer.
Moisturize your skinComing out of winter, the skin is often comparable to that of an old crocodile! Knowing that dry skin tends to be more sun-sensitive, moisturizing is key. A good exfoliator can rid you of dead skin cells. Use a horsehair glove or an exfoliator containing small granules (salt, sugar, coffee grounds, etc.), and rub gently, using circular motions, on your legs, arms, and neckline. Once exfoliation is complete, get into the habit of applying body lotion after showering.
Apply a good sunscreenThere are so many sunscreen options to choose from! Here are a few things to consider to ensure you are choosing the right product and giving your skin the best protection.
SPF: what’s the magic number?Dermatologists recommend using a high-level sunscreen—with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) between 30 and 60. There are five deciding factors when choosing a higher or lower SPF:
- Skin colour. People with lighter or sensitive skin should opt for an SPF between 45 and 60.
- Health. An SPF of 60 is recommend for people who have had skin cancer or those taking photosensitizing medications, which make the skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays.
- Time of year. A higher level of protection is recommended during earlier exposures.
- The day’s activity. Think a day at the beach versus a day at the office.
- UV index. The higher the index number, the stronger the sun’s rays are, and the more protection is needed.
Why read labels?To compare the level of UVB protection between products, you can simply rely on the SPF. But what about UVAs? Reading the labels can help! For a sunscreen with chemical filters effective against these types for rays, look for ingredients such as Mexoryl (XL or SX), Helioplex, Tinosorb, and Avobenzone (or Parsol 1789).
Frequent applicationMost people are unaware that sunscreen should be applied every two hours—in sufficient quantities—to be adequately protected. This is true regardless of the sunscreen’s protection index. This is of even greater importance when swimming or doing sports outdoors.
Chemical or mineral filters?There are two possible types of filters in sunscreen: chemical and mineral. The former are designed to absorb UV rays, whereas the latter reflect them. Mineral sunscreens are thicker and may leave a white coat on the skin. While chemical filters should be applied about 30 minutes before exposure, mineral sunscreen protects on application.
Beware of sunscreens that are harmful to the environmentOver the past few years, the damaging impact of chemical filters on ocean health—especially corals—was brought to light. Products containing ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate should be avoided due to their impact on the environment. To reduce your environmental footprint, opt for mineral-based sunscreens, which pose less of a risk.
Progressive exposureKeep in mind that the skin is highly sensitive to the sun at the start of the season. It is therefore best to avoid extended exposure between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are at their strongest. In addition to sunscreen, you should wear a hat, sunglasses, and light, colourful clothing that covers part of your arms and legs.