Sun, Sea and SPF

6 simple rules for healthy, protected skin this summer

By Clémence von Mueffling

“Eternity. It’s the sea mingled with the sun.” – Arthur Rimbaud

If I close my eyes, I can still remember the wonderful scent of my grandfather’s famous suntan lotion: Huile de Chaldée by Jean Patou. From warm amber and sweet orange blossom to sensuous lilac and rich narcissus, the oil was a beautiful marriage of scents and oils that worked in tandem “to soften and tan the skin.” While many people would tan often back in the day, we know better now to protect our skin no matter how lovely those tanning oils smell. A little sun is good, but we do have to follow a few simple rules.

1. Back to basics

The sun emits two types of UV rays: UVA (the long waves responsible for aging) and UVB (the short waves responsible for burning, redness, pigmentation, and the immediate superficial damage from sun exposure). The sun protection factor (SPF) only protects against UVB rays.

2. Pre-vacay prep

-Fortify your skin with plenty of antioxidants to boost your skin’s immunity. Eat fresh food containing vitamin C (leafy greens, citrus), vitamin E (oils, almonds, avocado, butternut squash, fish, broccoli), and zinc (nuts, spinach, seafood, pumpkin seeds). Even better, these nutrients are beneficial for every aspect of your health.

-If you plan to take a beach vacation or spend extended periods out in the sun, you should avoid peeling or exfoliating the skin for fifteen days prior to any summer excursion. You should also stop using products that contain strong acids that may be causing damage to your epidermal lipid and over-sensitizing your skin.

-Take a break from skincare products containing alcohol, which can burn the skin.

3. Ready for the beach!

-Avoid sun exposure between one and three p.m. when the sun is at its highest and hottest. Save the outdoor activities, especially fun at the beach, for early morning or sunset. During the summertime, the perfect time to relax on the beach is between five and seven p.m. 

-There is an abundance of options for sun care, so be sure to use a sunscreen product adapted specifically to your own skin sensitivity. Apply it before you leave the house, and reapply every hour and after you swim. If you are very pale or at risk of skin cancer, use a long-lasting sunscreen. Sunscreens also have expiration dates, so you should buy new products every summer to ensure that you get the full protection described on the label.

-Don’t forget your décolleté! Take precaution and regularly apply sunscreen on your neck and chest as you would on your face.

-Many pregnant women develop melasma around the fourth month of their pregnancy due to a surge in hormones. The increase in melanin synthesis leads to hyperpigmentation that shows up in the form of dark or grayish spots, often located in the middle of the forehead, on the chin, and around the mouth. Make it a priority to wear a hat, apply a high-SPF sunscreen, and use an anti-pigmentation serum underneath your sunscreen.

4. Relax & recover

It is essential to hydrate the skin after sun exposure, especially if you get a sunburn! Sunburns are unfortunately way too common, and they can lead to irreversible damage. It is important to drink a lot of water to rehydrate the skin from within. Externally, you can also use a thermal water spray to relieve the burning feeling. A few minutes later, apply a soothing gel that can be used to treat sunburns. Avoid all sun exposure in the subsequent days and use a sunscreen with maximum protection for the rest of the season. If you have a headache or nausea, aspirin is the best remedy.

5. My go-to products:

-Sun-protective clothing: There are hats, t- shirts, jackets, and rash guards made from fabrics that protect against UVA and UVB rays. Look for a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) label; the higher the number, the greater the protection. These are great options for young children and adults who don’t like to use sunscreen.

-High-SPF sunscreen favorites: La Roche-Posay, Supergoop!, and L’Oréal

-SPF-tinted products: Erborian CC Crème High Definition Radiance Face Cream Skin Perfector SPF 25 is a multitasking product ideal for women on the run. The Erborian Skin Perfector is a high SPF product that initially applies as white, but becomes a tinted moisturizer when you rub it in. For normal to oily skin, try SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50.

6. In-flight protocol

My travel ritual has finally reached peak performance! I cleanse and moisturize my face right before a flight in order to maximize my in-flight hydration. The only makeup I wear is mascara, since the dry air cabin dehydrates the skin too much otherwise. I also never drink alcohol on the day of the trip or upon arrival. I stick to water and herbal teas to avoid puffiness until after my jet-lag has also set sea!

Clémence von Mueffling launched the online magazine Beauty and Well-Being in 2007 and has worked for iconic brands such as Clarins, Puig, and Dior. 

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