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For many people, laying in the sun on a hot summer’s day is one of life’s pleasures. On a beach, in a park, or just in your own back garden, getting a tan makes us feel good.

But wait a minute. Are you leading your skin down a path of early ageing, uneven skin tone, and worst-case scenario, skin cancer?

We’re pretty sure that you wouldn’t go out of your way to put your hand into the path of a naked flame, but when you sunbathe, you’re actually burning the top layer of the skin. Harsh? Yes, but true.

The sun emits UVA and UVB (ultraviolet) rays. The UVA rays are associated with skin damage such as ageing, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin, causing damage at a cellular level. Because the damage is cellular, you can’t see it as it occurs. Some skin conditions can take around two years to present themselves, often by which time it can be too late to undo the damage.

The UVB rays have a shorter wavelength than UVA and are primarily linked with skin burning. They also have a key role in the formation of skin cancers, especially a dangerous form of skin cancer called malignant melanoma.

UVB rays are also responsible for a condition called skin blistering. This can be incredibly painful as fluid-filled blisters form on between the layers of skin. Blisters should NEVER be burst as they could become infected.

Spending just 15 minutes in the sun is enough to damage your skin. Ideally, a good-quality moisturiser with a built-in SPF should be worn every day of the year – even when there’s no sign of the sun in the sky.

Too much sun exposure can also cause cataracts, which is why its recommended you wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat when out and about in the sunshine.

It’s Not All Doom And Gloom

On the flip side, spending time in the sun can actually be good for you. Sunlight is the easiest way to get the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D, which can help to reduce depression, aid sleep, give us stronger bones, and boost our immune system. Vitamin D can be found in some types of fish, and egg yolks. Manufacturers also add it to some of our staple foodstuffs, and supplements are also available to take on a daily basis. The medical profession do not recommend sunbathing as the sole source of your Vitamin D intake.

Prevention is better than cure, so if you are a sun-worshipper, here’s a handful of hacks to help alleviate sunburn and skin damage.

  • Always use sunscreen – and keep applying it regularly throughout the day. The higher the SPF number, the greater its protection – but don’t go below SPF15. The [Comfort Zone] products include their Sun Soul range, and the Prevention range from Image Skincare includes some excellent moisturisers, all with SPF included in their formulas.
  • The sun is at its peak between 10am – 4pm so it makes sense to try and avoid sun-worshipping during these times.
  • Let shade be your friend. Enjoy the beach or poolside with a parasol or find a shady spot to relax and unwind.
  • Dress appropriately. Long-sleeves shirts, long skirts and trousers will help to protect your skin. Wearing a t-shirt in the sun offers less than SPF15 protection, so make sure to slap on the sunscreen as well as your t-shirt.
  • Wear a hat – it’ll protect the top of your head, eyes, and face from the sun’s harmful rays. Just bear in mind that a straw hat has holes in and will let the rays through to your skin. A darker-coloured hat will provide more protection than a pale one.
  • Don’t forget the sunnies! We’ve already mentioned that too much sun can cause cataracts, but it can also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of cold water.

For skin that’s already been damaged by the sun, all is not lost. With advances in skincare treatments, some of the effects of sun damage can be addressed. As Tonic Day Spa we offer several treatments that deal with pigmentation issues, including peels, Dermalux, Exceed and Byonik.

The Illuma range by Image Skincare is also specially designed to brighten damaged skin and restore a healthy glow and even pigmentation.

If you have any concerns about sun damaged skin and would like to find out more about treatments available, our team of skincare experts are always on hand. Just pick up the phone and call us on 01543 450799 for a skin consultation.

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