The days become sunnier and warmer, you start thinking about summer and also about tanning. But to ensure a healthy complexion and protect the skin from the damage that UV rays can cause, you should prepare your skin in time for increased sun exposure. As we will see, there are small and simple gestures that you can put into practice right now and that will help the skin to defend itself naturally, not to dehydrate, not to have spots, discolorations or wrinkles caused by the sun's rays. In addition to these precautions, the guidelines that recommend avoiding the central hours of the day and using protective sunscreens remain valid.
Exposing yourself gradually
Exposing yourself to the sun is good for your mood and increases vitamin D levels. Tanning is the skin's natural reaction to exposure to sunlight. In fact, melanin is activated, which is a pigment produced by melanocytes with an action similar to a filter to protect the skin from sun damage. However, coming from a winter and spring period in which the body has always been covered, the melanocytes are at rest. Taking the sun without gradualness means not allowing time for the melanocytes to activate and exposing yourself to greater risks of inflammation and oxidative stress. To activate melanin and ensure a lasting tan, you need to expose yourself to the sun gradually, a little a day right now (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, 2006).
Tanning beds, no thanks
Partly because tanning is linked to an idea of beauty and health, partly to strengthen the skin, partly due to the mistaken belief that indoor tanning is safer, many people resort to tanning beds. Sometimes also because they are convinced that in this way they are also preparing the skin for the sun in order to preserve the tan for a long time. But the reality is different. In fact, more and more scientific research has shown that exposure to UV rays inside tanning beds increases the risk of cellular degeneration and skin cancers. Not only that, tanning beds accelerate premature skin aging and cause burns and alterations in the immune response. The problem is that tanning beds can produce up to 15 times the amount of UV rays produced by the sun in the central hours of the day (Le Clair et al, Prev Med Rep, 2016 - Sivamani et al, Dermatol Clin, 2010).
The scrub to be performed once a week both in the period before sun exposure and during sun exposure helps renew the skin, counteract photo-aging, dark spots and melasma (Grajqevci-Kotori et al, Med Arch, 2015 ). You can prepare an excellent scrub at home by mixing sugar and very little water to form a cream. Apply to face in slow circular motion, then rinse.
Keeping the skin hydrated is important to preserve the functionality of the skin protective barrier and to allow the skin to renew itself, preventing it from becoming dry and flaky (Spada et al, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol., 2018). Therefore, don't forget to drink about two liters of water a day. Drinking more water has been observed to improve the level of hydration of the skin (Palma et al, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol., 2015). Moisturizing cosmetics are also indispensable. But be careful, it is often wrongly believed that these products add water to the skin. Instead, moisturizing products prevent the water present in the skin from evaporating and being lost, by creating a protective film. For example, vegetable oils can be very helpful in this. Coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer, but should be used in moderation and avoided in case of acne-prone skin, due to its possible comedogenic action. Argan oil can also be chosen for mature skin, while jojoba oil is perfect for young skin (Lin et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2018 - Boucetta et al, Prz Menopauzalny, 2014). After spraying a hydrosol, such as rose water which is also anti-aging and soothing, you can apply a few drops of the chosen oil directly to the face. Alternatively, if you don't like DIY, you can choose ready-made creams prepared with vegetable oils.
Nutrition also does its part to strengthen the skin and prepare it for the sun. In this case, foods rich in antioxidants, such as beta carotene and lycopene, which counteract oxidative stress and photoaging, are important. Beta carotene helps prevent rashes caused by UV rays. Carrots are rich in beta carotene and should be eaten raw or, even better, boiled. Lycopene also protects the skin from UV damage. Lycopene is found in watermelon and tomato sauce (Stahl et al, JN, 2001). Vitamin E, contained in extra virgin olive oil, nuts and avocado, and vitamin C, contained in kiwis, mangoes, citrus fruits, but also broccoli, tomatoes and peppers, also help protect the skin from sun damage (Fernandez Garcia et al, Food Funct, 2014).