I’ve been paying more attention to protecting my skin for some years now. In fact, beach days, lying on the towel, tanning my body, are long gone. I even think about how I was able to do it in the past.
It’s just that today, and as much as I wish it wasn’t so, I can’t stand the intense sun on my skin. The results are really unpleasant.
The problem starts to manifest itself when I do my first days on the beach at the beginning of summer.
“What do you mean? But don’t you surf? Aren’t you always at the beach?” you might be asking.
True, but in wintertime, I’m not out in the sun. My body’s almost always covered, either with clothes or with a wetsuit.
It’s in the summer, when the bikini and the beach towel really come into play, that it becomes hard to deal with the sun.
I’m talking about skin full of small pimples in certain areas, like the arms or the top of my feet. An irritation that itches a lot and that I have been helping with the famous Biafine cream. 🙂
But it wasn’t always like this.
The first time it happened to me is a funny story, since I was in the Mentawai, a remote group of islands in Indonesia.
I usually book vacations either at the beginning of summer or at the end, and on this trip, I went in April. In other words, my body had just come out of winter without having caught a decent ray of sunshine.
Now imagine me on an isolated island, with a scorching sun, I don’t know how many hours and boat trips from the nearest hospital, and getting an allergy to the sun as I’ve never seen before! I looked like a lizard, with my body completely covered with pimples and an unstoppable itch… a nightmare!
Another Portuguese man, who was also staying there, saved me with the so-called Biafine. If not, I was already considering an early return.
This to say that, since then, every year, this sun allergy returns with the beginning of summer, which makes me have to take extra care of my skin until it’s more used to the new weather conditions.
My skin protection rules
There are eight critical rules in skin protection during the summer (and beyond) that I try to follow and advise you to do as well. These are simple things that can have a giant impact on health.
1. Protect your skin every day
It’s not only when we go to the beach that we should apply sunscreen, especially on the face, which is one of the most exposed parts throughout the year.
Do it as part of your morning routine. Several face moisturizers already have UV protection. We are daily exposed to UV radiation, and we must not forget that.
2. Strengthen the protection
If you have light skin, suffer from an allergy to the sun, or if you are on the beach for the first few weeks, reinforcing the level of protection is crucial. SPF 50+ is my suggestion.
3. Avoid the peak of the sun
Avoid staying in the sun between 11:00 and 16:00. Contrary to what you may think, staying under the beach umbrella can also tan, as the radiation reflects on the sand. So, here too, don’t forget to wear a sun protector.
4. Hydration is vital
While you’re on the beach, keep drinking liquids. And I’m not talking about beer or mojitos… water is essential! When you get home and after your bath, applying an after-sun moisturizer is necessary for the skin to recover from the sun’s impact.
5. Other protective essentials
The use of hats and sunglasses is always advisable. Pay particular attention to the latter by opting for the right protective lenses. Sometimes they are more expensive, but wearing weak glasses can cause severe damage to your eyesight.
6. What about hair?
It also deserves protection, of course! Some hair products help with sun exposure, salt water, and chlorine from the swimming pools.
7. Attention to surgical procedures
If you had recent surgery, medical or cosmetic, ask your doctor for advice on when and how to sunbathe.
I remember when I had appendix surgery in the first months on the beach, I had to protect the scar so that later on, it wouldn’t get dark and more noticeable. The same applies if you made a tattoo recently.
8. The food also counts
It is said that the skin works from the inside out, so some food tricks help the skin to defend itself better. In the summer months, reinforce your diet with carrots, tomatoes, almonds, Brazil nuts, and coconut water. Needless to say, fruits and vegetables are essential at any time of year.
The importance of sun protection
The sun’s rays penetrate deep into our skin, causing it to change. These changes manifest themselves in the form of freckles (I have many!), spots (check!), and wrinkles (ouch, age!). But it can also, unfortunately, cause other problems. In excess, sun exposure can cause benign but also malignant tumors, known as carcinomas or melanoma. Skin cancer is no joke, people!
This is where sunscreens come in as our biggest ally.
These are products that can prevent the harmful effects of the sun, such as cancer, premature skin aging, or sunburn.
Ideally, apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun and reinforce every two hours. Even more so if you’re always in and out of the water, surfing or bathing.
My choice of sunscreen
As I was saying at the beginning of this post, my experience with the sun has been degrading with age. My skin now seems to react more and more to the excess sun, so don’t count here on finding suntan lotions or minimal protection. Those days are gone, and if I had known what I know today, I would undoubtedly have been more aware.
Right now, I’m using the Seventy One Percent range of sunscreens, and I’m enjoying it very much!
I chose this brand for several reasons:
– First, it was designed by and for surfers! And who better than the surfers, who spend hours in the water and on the beach, to understand the importance of sun protection?
– The products don’t have silicones, parabens, phenoxyethanol, or petroleum in their composition.
– They respect the marine ecosystems and protect the corals. Amazingly, many sunscreen compositions include chemicals that harm these habitats. Seventy One’s products give priority to mineral filters and don’t contain nanoparticles that are harmful not only to the environment but also to our bodies.
– They are entirely organic and cruelty-free!
Of the entire Seventy One range, these are the ones I’m using:
Eco Sun Shield SPF 50+
Thicker and with 100% mineral filters, it gives me the protection I need for the most sensitive areas of the body. I have a maximum shield and avoid unwanted reactions.
Dry Sun Oil SPF 30
A protective spray with an incredible fragrance that can be used in the body, but also on the face or even the hair. And for those who like tan, it promises to prolong it without losing its protective capacity. As I’m at the beginning of summer, I still don’t have tanned skin, but I hope to get there. 😉
Sun Stick SPF 50+
Very water-resistant and perfect for applying to the face and go surfing! And it also comes in several colors to give a different look.
This little tube is a savior since it’s an anti-irritating balm. It can be used for burns caused by wearing a wetsuit or shorts (those who are used to surfing in hot water know what I’m talking about), soothes the skin attacked by the sun, repairs the lips, and can even be used to soothe insect bites.
There is a lot to say about skin protection, especially in the summer months, and what I’ve put here is my own experience, the tips I follow, and the products I use, taking into account my skin type and the environment where I travel to.
Being a surfer is incredible, but it can have physical consequences. As well as being a traveler and loving going to the beach, desert, mountain, or snow destinations. Aggressive weather conditions must be dealt with accordingly to protect ourselves from the impacts they can have, particularly on our skin.
I would like to stress that this post doesn’t invalidate (in fact, it is advisable) that you look for a specialized doctor to know the actions you should take to protect your skin type.
However, if you found this post useful and have more tips or some experience to share, do it in the comments box below. I’ll love to hear from you and learn more!
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This article was made based on my personal experience, but also using some information provided by CUF and the Brazilian Society of Dermatology.
The Seventy One protective line was offered to me by the brand, but, as always, all the photos and opinions are mine, sincerely reflecting my user experience.