Toasty beaches and lapping turquoise waters are just some of the vistas conjured up by the words “spring break.” But without proper planning, those calming images could be replaced by the pain of crimson skin and flaring heat.
Here are some tips on how to avoid getting sunburns this spring break!
By Bridget Stack
Sunburns aren’t just uncomfortable, they also pose a serious long-term health risk.
Experiencing one blistering sunburn doubles your chance of developing melanoma later in life. That’s not to say you should pack your long johns and yoga pants instead of a bathing suit. But there are several things you can do to avoid looking like a lobster while hitting the beach this April.
First, it’s important to understand why we burn more easily on a tropical spring break vacation than we do in the summer. There are a number of reasons, most of which can be attributed to a lower level of UV exposure.
If you need ideas for vacation spots, you can read our 5 of the Best Weekend Getaway Spots in the U.S.
The sun is at a much lower angle of elevation in the winter, so harmful UV rays are spread out over a wider area, reducing their intensity. We also spend less time outside. When we do venture into the tundra, we’re bundled up from head to toe. Our skin is also much drier in the winter, and burns more easily than moisturized skin.
Protecting your skin from sunburns goes far beyond just using sunscreen, and should actually start a week before you leave.
Here are three weeks of tips from Jonas Sickler at ConsumerSafety.org to prep your skin, and prevent “sun shock.”
Ditch moisturizers with retinol, which makes your skin more sun sensitive. You should look for an antioxidant-rich moisturizer instead. The Livad Bioidentical Vitamin Moisturizer is one that we recommend.
Exfoliate a few days out to remove dead skin, but don’t overdo it. Also, avoid exfoliating right before you leave, or your skin could be more sensitive.
If you insist on pre-tanning before your trip, skip the tanning bed to bronze instead. You can opt for self-tanning lotions or sprays. It’s important to remember that artificial tans do not protect you from the sun, so be sure to apply sunscreen, whether you’re tan or not.
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before hitting the beach to allow proper absorption, and reapply every 2 hours to avoid sunburns.
And don’t forget to check the expiration dates on your sunscreen! They don’t grow mold, but the sun protection fades with age, so you could be using a product that’s not protecting you.
Ease into the sun at first rather than roasting for 8 hours straight. In addition, you should wear a sun hat or clothing with UVA/UVB protectors. You can also step into the shade from time to time to give your skin a rest, preferably during the 12pm – 1pm window when it’s directly overhead.
There are also UV sensing bracelets that will change color to warn you of sunburn risks.
Unfortunately, we all have to return home at some point. There are several things you can do to help rejuvenate sun-stressed skin. Schedule a facial to clear your pores from sunscreen, moisturizer, and dead cells. Coconut oil can help hydrate and nourish your skin.
According to Bustle, coconut oil is perfect for your face— it also smells like the beach without the addition of harmful perfumes.
Notice any sunspots? Immediately treat them with squalane oil, sandalwood, and aloe vera. If your lips are windblown and dry, use moisturizing lip balm with SPF to bring your lips back to health & to prevent further damage.
You can learn how to create your own natural lip balm here!
While you’re basking in a hammock on some distant beach, you should be able to relax a little more easily knowing that you aren’t doing any damage to your body. The only concern on your mind should be how many days you have left in paradise.
Prior to joining ConsumerSafety.org, Bridget Stack worked in marketing, social media, and journalism. She previously worked for numerous national brands, and she now focuses her passion for research on protecting consumers. You can follow ConsumerSafety.org on Twitter @ConsumerSafetyO.
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