It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when you throw travellers into sunny climates when they’re not used to the sun, then lobster-red skin is not going to be too far behind them, ruining their holiday.
Whilst travelling through Cyprus, I sadly saw lots of tourists with skin that looked painful and oh so unfashionable. I find it surprising just how much some people choose to neglect their skin, but then it occurred to me: maybe they just don’t have enough info to advise them on how to take care of their skin.
So, here I am doing my little bit to educate others on how to avoid the glare of lobster-red skin with these 5 sun safety tips – listen up!
Tip #1: It’s not all about the SPF in sunscreen
The SPF level of sunscreen is certainly important, as it helps give you an idea of how much protection that particular bottle will give you from the sun. But it’s not the only factor to consider! On the back of the bottle is the UVA star rating, which shows the quality of the sunscreen’s protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. This star rating is regardless of its SPF rating, so you should opt for both a high SPF and UVA star rating for maximum protection. For instance, a bottle with an SPF rating of 30, but only 3 stars is not as good for you as an SPF rating of 30, but with 5 stars. Your best bet? Pick the SPF factor that’s right for you, but don’t forget the star rating on the back.
Tip #2: Avoid sightseeing from the hours of 12 – 3pm
This is the advice your Mum always gave you isn’t it? Avoid direct sunlight when the sun is at its highest (and hottest) during the day. The Italians do this ever so well by having 3 hour siestas. During this time, they eat and drink with their friends and families before heading back off to work or sight-see for the rest of the day. But okay, if you absolutely must go out in direct sunlight during these hours, read on…
Tip #3: Covering up will always be your best protection
If your skin isn’t under the harsh glare of the sun, then you’re fairly well protected. Options to cover up with include a wide-brimmed hat, light shawl, wrap or cardigan and long, lightweight trousers. If lazing on the beach, try to stay in the shade. Some beaches will offer sunbed and parasols for hire and some will have natural shade spots near to cliffs. But if in doubt, you could always buy a travel parasol to take with you (just as long as you have the space and weight allowance free in your suitcase). You should also never neglect your feet, which are also prone to burning if left unprotected. At the very least, slap some sunscreen on your tootsies!
Tip #4: Remember the golden rule of timing when applying sunscreen
Using sunscreen effectively is also about the timing of it. Remember to apply it 15-30 minutes before going outside. As for how often you should apply it, every cream and spray is different. One tip is to consider the SPF: an SPF of 15 allows you to stay out 15 times longer than without any cream at all, whilst an SPF of 30 lets you stay out 30 times as long. You could use this to gather how often you should apply the cream, but who wants to do maths on holiday? Some manufacturers recommend reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours and straight after being in the water. Whilst others recommend re-applying the different SPFs per minute (i.e. reapply SPF 30 every 30 minutes, SPF 50 every 50 minutes etc). Either way, sometimes it can feel a bit like trial and error to get the timing right. My advice? Err on the side of caution – too much sunscreen is better than not enough. Also, dermatologists advise that you should use the guideline of “1 ounce – enough to fill a shot glass” per patch of exposed skin.
Tip #5: Keep yourself fresh and hydrated – your body will thank you for it
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day (water, not caffeine or booze). Not only will this keep your insides hydrated, but it will also keep you fresh and raring to go (rather than prone to napping). One tip I have is to keep a normal 500 ml bottle of water in the fridge ready to take out with you, alongside a litre bottle kept in the freezer overnight. By the time you’ve finished with the smaller bottle early on in the day, the larger bottle will have started to melt, whilst still keeping your water cool. After all, no-one wants to drink warm water on a hot day!
Bonus Tip: You’ve protected your body, but what about your valuables?
Okay, you got me. This isn’t a tip to keep your body safe in the sun, but it is one to help keep your valuables safe – that counts, right? If you’re relaxing on the beach somewhere, the chances are high that you’ll want to dip your toes, belly, whole body in the ocean. But what should you do about your car key, hotel key, phone or money whilst doing so? There are a whole host of ways you can ward off thieves. From hiding your valuables inside a cleaned out sun cream bottle, to burying them in the sand and just keeping your eye on them whilst swimming. But the most foolproof way is to keep them with you! Pouches like the Aquapac keep your valuables watertight whilst you swim, snorkel or just bob about in the sea. My snorkelling gear goes with me on every beach vacation, so I swear by these types of pouch every time!
I hope these tips prove useful to help keep you safe, fresh and healthy in the sun this summer. Remember: nicely tanned skin is way better than glaring lobster-red skin!
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