Winter is on its way, but don’t pack away that sunscreen just yet!
Did you know that much of the harmful damage to skin occurs during these cooler months?
It is when we are caught off guard and get exposed to UV rays unexpectedly that the most damage can occur.
“Sun protection doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive – it needs to be consistent. Keep it simple, but do it forever”
Hillary Fogelson, sun protection activist and skin cancer survivor
Why is wearing sunscreen all year ’round important?
Our body’s largest organ is our skin and it deserves our utmost attention. More than just a smear of sunscreen in mid-summer, our skin needs constant care throughout the year.
The harmful UVA and UVB rays will continue to cause damage to our skin if we are not careful in protecting ourselves.
The UVA rays that cause burning are slightly weaker in the cooler months.
The UVB rays however, which are associated with premature ageing and skin damage, are just as strong all year round.
Some people head up into mountainous regions to catch some snow time during South African winters and often forget that the combination of higher altitude, clear skies and reflection are a lethal combination for an onslaught of UV ray exposure.
It is important to note that just because your skin hasn’t burnt, you have not necessarily escapde the wrath of Mr- Sun!
What damage does the sun cause to skin?
- Premature ageing, wrinkles and fine lines can form due to loss of elasticity
- Discolouration and dark spots
- Dehydrated, peeling, flaky skin and dry patches
- Uncomfortable sunburn which can lead to sunspots, precancerous cells, skin blemishes and even skin cancers
“In South Africa … there is one of the highest incidences of malignant melanoma in the world and concern for skin cancer overall has grown in recent years.”
BMC Health Services Research
As you can agree none of the above are conditions that are nice to have or easy to fix. Prevention is definitely better than cure in this case! Let’s begin to change our perceptions, and then our actions, around skin care and sun protection through the year and explore how we can protect our skin more adequately.
Can we prevent premature skin ageing by applying sunscreen?
The experts seem to agree that this in fact is one of the most effective solutions!
How do I care for my sun-burnt skin?
For severe cases you should seek proper medical assistance immediately.
The following solutions are recommended by www.skincancer.org, but of course we know that prevention is far better than cure.
- Cool down the burn with cool compresses or a dip in cool water.
- Gently moisturise with lotion (but not with petroleum or oil-based ointments which can trap the heat and make the burn worse)
- Rehydration sachets to rehydrate yourself are helpful
- You may need oral anti-inflammatories (Ask a medical professional)
Treatments to help sun burnt skin can only assist in short-term pain relief and healing, but the real damage to the skin can never be reversed.
Once skin has been burnt the damage has been done!
Life saving skin checks
How do I reduce my skin cancer risk?
- Check your skin often: get familiar with the skin changes you should look out for and, if you notice something that concerns you, get it checked by a health professional
- Never use sunbeds
- Always use sunscreen (reapply if needed and use a high factor)
- Stay out of the sun if the UV index is high (usually middle of the day.
How can I protect my skin from the sun?
- Wear sunscreen when outdoors or if exposued to the sun for any length of time. UV rays can penetrate glass so extended times of driving or sitting by a window can also cause damage.
- Select your sun- screen carefully, making use of the correct SPF.
- Apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before sun exposure, using an adequate amount to get proper cover.
- Reapply sunscreen at intervals and especially after swimming.
- Dispose of expired sunscreen.
“The American Academy of Dermatology recommends purchasing a sunscreen that is broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher, and waterproof. A sunscreen’s SPF (sun protection factor) determines the percentage of UV rays it will block. SPF 30 will provide more than adequate coverage – it blocks up to 96% of the sun’s rays, and protection only increases minimally with higher SPFs.”
Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers
Cover Up Using Clothing and Hats
- Cover your body with clothing where possible: – wear long sleeves, or use a sarong as a sun shield, and wear a rash vests when swimming. Keeping a long-sleeve top in your car and slipping this on when you are outdoors can go a long way in minimising the damage on your arms.
- Wear a hat when outdoors. Find a hat that is comfortable and suits your outfits. Having a great selection will make this possibly new habit easier to add to your life.
- Start the new habit today – take a hat with you when you leave the house!
- Keep sunscreen in easy-to-find places, in your work drawer, in your handbag, in the car and in your child’s school bag.
- Make sure you have some on hand for those unexpected times. We were given the opportunity to try EezySun sunscreen snap sachets, and they are the perfect way to keep sunscreen on hand; They come in small 8ml sachets that are easy to store and easy to use.
“Protecting my young children’s skin was always something I prioritised but, as they got older and began to attend primary school I found I was not always there to apply the sunscreen before sports practices. These EezySun sachets are the perfect solution to this situation. They are small, so can easily be slipped into a sports bag without a fuss.”
Lauren, mother of 3
Manage Your Sun Exposure Times
- Avoid direct, lengthy sun exposure between 10am and 4pm.
- Limit the number of days in the week you spend in significant sun exposure.
The prevention of lasting skin problems and serious skin conditions like melanomas comes down to systematically caring for your skin on a daily basis throughout the year. These ways of caring for your skin need to become ingrained habits and it is important that these are practiced by the older and younger members of our families.
Tips for choosing the best sunscreen
Which SPF should I use?
Check the SPF factor, it should be 30 or 50, and protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF indicates the amount of time the sunscreen will protect you, so 30 SPF will protect you for 30 times longer than no sunscreen.
EezySun recommends that for extended, intense exposure, a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is used. SPF 30 filters out up to 97% of the sun’s UV radiation, while SPF 50 filters out up to 98%.
Other things to consider
- Check if it is waterproof or resistant.
- Check if it contains chemical filters such as oxybenzone which change UV rays into heat and direct them away from your skin, or check if it is mineral based – this is the best choice and will contain (titanium oxide or zinc oxide). Mineral based is the best choice as it directs the rays away from your skin immediately and it also moisturises as an added bonus.
- Make sure it is in user-friendly packaging
- Select a convenient size.
“EezySun sunscreen sachets are the perfect solution to making sure my students are protected before we hit the waves. I am going to be slipping a few of these handy sachets into my surfboard bag and encouraging my groms to do the same!”
John, surfing coach
The sachets are a really are a life changer in having easily accessible sunscreen no matter where you find yourself!
The mineral based recipe, CANSA endorsed formula and high SPF factor really is the perfect solution. Now there is no excuse not to ramp up your suncare regime.
Let’s commit to intentionally looking after our skin as it is the only one we are in!
EezySun sunscreen comes in tubes or in boxes of easy to open sachets. Sachet boxes come in sets of 10 or 60. These are most useful for tucking away into a hiking pack or school bag. The sunscreen comes in SPF 30 or 50.
They are available in most Clicks and Spar stores countrywide. Follow EezySun on Facebook.
Let’s commit to intentionally looking after our skin, as it is the only one we are in!