Keeping the sun at bay

Isn't it great to finally wave goodbye to miserable winter weather and start to enjoy some sunny days? It seems like everyone has come out of hibernation and barbecues, al fresco dining and even the prospect of long summer days are finally on the horizon.

I've certainly noticed how much more lively everyone is, energised by the sun and the warmer weather.

Even the tiniest bit of sunshine makes us all feel so much healthier and has many benefits in terms of vitamin D production. But too much exposure to the sun can lead to premature aging of the skin. So now is definitely the timeto think about how you are going to protect yourself from the aging effects of all that ultra violet radiation.

For those of you interested in the technical bits, over time, exposure to the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight damages fibres in the skin called elastin. When the elastin in the skin breaks down, the skin starts to sag and stretch and loses its ability to go back into place after stretching. This is a major cause of lines and wrinkles.

And beware, sun damage may not be apparent when you are young, but it will rear its head in later life.

So what should you do to minimise the effects of exposing your skin to the sun?

  • Stay out of the sun between the hours of 10am and 3pm when ultraviolet levels are at their highest.

  • Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your head and your face from the suns rays.

  • Use a sunscreen or cosmetic product with a sun protection factor or SPF of at least 15 and regularly reapply the sunscreen, particularly when it may have been washed off by swimming or water sports.

And don't forget, it's not just the summer sun that can do the damage – the sunlight in winter has an equally dramatic effect, it's just that we are normally much more covered up in the winter.

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