Summer is here, and even if it is just the beginning, the sun is already in full bloom and with the full blooming sun comes extensive sun damage.
Needless to say once the damage starts, most of us would get online to find the best possible solution to “cure” it.
This summer, let us focus on preventing the damage right from the beginning and be all geared up to ensure that the damage is minimal at max.
We start with what little changes can be made or what foods can be added to your diet so that your skin’s immunity gets a boost and the sun damage can be prevented from within. The next would come the lifestyle changes and finally the cure for the damage that has happened anyway.
Revisiting Your Diet Chart
A lot of essential vitamins and minerals are crucial for building the skin’s immunity. Lycopene is currently the industry favourite but there are several other important ones too which if taken in addition to Lycopene will boost the skin’s immunity multifolds.
Citrus Fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges are rich source of Vitamin C, Limonene and Antioxidants. While Limonene itself is responsible for reducing the chances of skin damage as well as skin cancer by about 35-40%, Vitamin C together with Vitamin E is known to reduce the skin’s susceptibility to sunburn.
The antioxidants in addition to the aforementioned protect the skin cells from free radical damage thus preventing premature ageing and skin cancer risks.
Rich source of Ellagic acid and antioxidants, pomegranates are known to stimulate glutathione production in the body.
Ellagic acid in specific protects the skin from damage caused by the UVA and UVB rays.
Red grapes are rich source of phytonutrients, proanthocyanidins and quercetin which help fight sun damage both by boosting the skin’s immunity as well as by fighting the damage that happens.
Phytonutrients help in slowing down of ROS (reactive oxygen species) thus preventing cell ageing and death which ultimately reduces the risk for sun damage and skin cancer. Proanthocyanidins and other polyphenols inhibit the risk of skin cancer caused by UV rays. Similarly, Quercetin helps in lessening the oxidative DNA damage caused by excess UVB exposure thus preventing inflammation which we call sunburn in layman terms.
Now this can be considered a surprise package, Omega 3 fatty acids don’t just help protect your skin from sunburn and reduce the additional inflammation that the burn causes to the nearby skin cells.
Omega 3 fatty acids in flax seeds can protect your skin from sunburn, reduce additional inflammation if sunburn occurs, and fight against skin cancer. According to the National Institute of Health, flaxseed oil can protect your skin against UV rays and keep your skin moisturized so it won’t dry out, as well as fight against skin cancer. Try adding 2 tablespoons to your next smoothie.
Now this is the part where a lot gets said usually so we will just brush through to ensure that you are well reminded of what is in store
- Wear your Sunscreen regularly, about 20 minutes before leaving and ensure that you stick to it religiously. Also, not just that- the effect wears off after about 3-4 hours depending upon the kind of exposure that you have and so keep reapplying it. And just to reiterate, SPF 35 and beyond is absolutely necessary in the Indian climate.
- One really sensitive area on your face is the under eye region, a few rubs and it darkens, a bit of stress and it darkens and then UV-A and UV-B attack and it darkens almost permanently if not treated. Now, since prevention is better than cure, do wear UV protected sunglasses when out. Not necessarily Photochromic (the color changing ones) but UV Tinted is the thing. Also, go for lens size which covers the entire under eye area.
- Lips darken not because of smoking only, pigmentation darkens the lips too and most of the pigmentation concerns are because of sun damage. The solution is simple- go for lip balms which contain adequate UV protection
- We had talked about UV protect clothings in an earlier blog. The same goes here again- they are readily available on almost all the online websites and so, your UV protection becomes just a click away. In case you do not want to buy a new clothing piece, then you can do one thing, hold on your clothes under a UV lamp and see how much light can pass. The lesser the passage, the higher the protection. Try it with different colored clothes and you can decide on your summer clothing accordingly.
- Cover, cover and cover yourself to avoid as much sun protection as you can.
- Last but not the least, avoid going out during the peak hours of 12 pm to 3 pm when the sun is at its hottest and hence the damage will be worst.
- Exfoliate your skin because that is how one can get rid of the dead cells that keep accumulating. Also, go for a mild exfoliator/scrub because too harsh particles can cause darkening due to friction. And not just the face, your body needs adequate exfoliation too and for that you can use loofahs, scrubs or Alpha Hydroxy Acid cleansers.
- Do not ignore if pigmentation spots start appearing. Pigmentation is a sign of extensive damage and any ignorance can make the marks permanent.
- Keep yourself hydrated. There is no right amount of water to drink. The water you need is the amount which will ensure a hassle free urination (the closest possible mark you can get to to monitor your body’s water balance)
- Visit a dermatologist positively. While you might feel that there are no visible marks on the skin and hence there is no sun damage, our reveal pictures taken of several clients have revealed that when the damage starts building up, it is usually not visible to naked eye. Now, it is up to the person concerned to decide whether they want to nip the issue right in the bud by taking suitable preventive measures or wait till the damage has been excessive and then go for a cure.
We hope this comprehensive sun protection guide was of help to you.
Stay tuned for more on preventing Sun Damage