Summer skin secrets: A beauty columnist’s guide to taking care of your skin

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Summer is just around the corner, which means we’ll be clocking in some serious time under the sun pretty soon, as out of town trips and getaways quickly fill our schedules. We’re definitely not complaining, as most of us look forward to the sun, sand and surf, even if it’s just for a few days. By now we would have already shopped for our beach essentials: swimsuits, cover-ups, flip-flops and even accessories usually top our list of things to buy. One thing we tend to leave to the last minute however, is really one of the most important things we should buy. It is a definite beach essential, and really, it should already be packed in our beach bags: it is of course, SUNSCREEN.

Many of us don’t realize it, but prolonged exposure to UV rays can cause serious damage to our skin. Going under the sun without proper protection can expose us to UVA (which causes premature aging, wrinkles, dark pigmentation and sagging skin) and UVB rays (the primary source of sunburns), which can also lead to skin cancer. Protecting our skin should be our top priority—applying sunscreen everyday can save our skin from sun damage. The minimum requirement recommended by most dermatologists is SPF 15 or higher for everyday use, and SPF 30 or higher for the beach. But of course, if you can find a product with much higher SPF, all the better!

Fill a shot glass. The most effective way to wear sunscreen is to apply liberally 15-20 minutes before sun exposure. Choose a sweat-proof, waterproof formula with a minimum SPF of 30 and slather on thickly all over your body. The proper amount of sunscreen should be equivalent to a shot glass full. Remember to cover areas like under your swimsuit as well as your hands and feet. And don’t forget to reapply every two to three hours, and after swimming. Apparently, skin absorbs sunscreen better while it is still wet, so it is better to do so right after taking a dip.

Don’t forget your face. Applying waterproof facial sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 on your face can save your skin from serious irreparable sun damage. The proper amount should be equivalent to a teaspoon or two, making sure to pay close attention to your nose, ears, behind the ears and neck. Skin is thinner on your face than on the rest of your body, so it’s best to choose a sunscreen that’s formulated for the face. Also, selecting an oil-free or water-based formula will ensure fewer breakouts so be sure to stick to those. Reapply every two hours and right after swimming.

Ingredients to look for. A broad-spectrum coverage will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Look for titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or Parsol 1789 (avobenzene) as the active ingredients in your sunscreen. Also, choose light formulas that are non-greasy and non-sticky to wear on regular days while heavier consistencies that go on a little thicker should be applied on days when you are more likely to burn. Most brands now have spray-on sunscreen with invisible formulas. These are easy to use and work just as well but you may need to reapply it more often.

Cover up with accessories. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat (along with your sunscreen, of course) can really do its job to protect your skin from a nasty burn, so make sure you have this with you at the beach. Bringing a beach umbrella with you (if you’re not planning to fly to your destination) can be just as good, and will provide a nice shade for you while relaxing at the beach. Wearing a tunic, kimono or beach gown can also help shield you from the sun, and provide ample coverage when you don’t feel like bearing it all while walking on the shore.

Ease that burn. If you’re reading this too late and already got a bad sunburn (ouch, I hope not), you should know that there are products to help soothe your skin. Aloe vera has been known to heal burns, and finding a product that contains a lot of it could be applied directly on the affected areas. If you can find out that also has a cooling effect, then all the better. Oh and try to avoid soap at all costs, because this can dry and irritate burned skin. It is better to just let your skin rest and keep applying aloe vera on your skin.

This article was written by me for http://www.watsons.com.ph. Check out their site for more beauty tips. 

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