The sun is probably one of the best things about planet Earth. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who lives in a warmer environment, we wait all year for the sunniest, warmest summer months. When the sun finally emerges in the spring, we often feel like new people, refreshed with a sense of excitement after the long winter months.

However, the sun is not all fun and games. Sunshine has a lot of benefits for our skin and our mental health, but it is also very powerful in other ways -- our skin needs to be protected from potential damage by the sun.

Pre-Sunshine: Preventative Measures

the sun shines on a beautiful field of grass
Who can resist the sunshine on a beautiful summer day?

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

You’ll need to increase your water intake in the summer to stay hydrated. When it gets hot or you are more active, you can become dehydrated more easily. Hydration truly works wonders for your skin, and for your overall health. Always start the day with some water and keep hydrated throughout the day!

refreshing water is poured into a glass
Always start the day with a refreshing glass of water.

Be prepared

You may be under the impression that you don’t need to worry about sunburn until it’s officially summer -- a.k.a when June hits, school is out, and we’re really in the thick of the summer heat. However, it’s important to prepare your skin as early as possible because the springtime sunburn could sneak up on you.

Choose a safe sunscreen

Recurrent sunburns can increase one’s risk of skin cancer, so you’ll want to use a sunscreen that is going to protect you from painful sunburn and other risks. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer, yet most sunscreens only protect from UVB rays that cause sunburn.

To protect yourself from all risks, you’ll want to find a “broad spectrum” sunscreen that protects from all UV rays. Make sure it is at least SPF 15, too! Mineral sunscreen is widely recommended over common chemical sunscreens. There are also certain ingredients you should try to avoid when purchasing sunscreen, including Vitamin A, Oxybenzone, and OMC.

a lineup of Beautycounter sun-care products
Beautycounter’s sunscreen line is both safe for your skin and the environment. It protects from UV rays, too. Image courtesy of Beautycounter.  

Protective measures while outdoors

Although you’re probably really looking forward to spending full days in the sun this summer, it’s important to protect yourself during your sunshine time, just as much as before and after. Here are a few ways you can protect your skin while still enjoying your day:

  • Take breaks in the shade
  • Bring along protective items, such as hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas
  • Avoid midday sun if you can (10:00 AM - 2:00 PM)
a woman relaxes in the sun wearing a sun hat and using an umbrella
Hats and umbrellas can help keep you safe from sunburn.

SPF all year round

To decrease your risk of skin cancer and sunburn, consider wearing sunscreen and using SPF products all year round. It may come as a surprise that UV rays can still reach our skin through clouds and windows, even in the winter -- but it’s true!

To protect yourself over time, start applying sunscreen daily, or at least as you remember. It will make all the difference come summertime!

a woman takes in the sunshine and applies SPF daily
UV rays are present all year round! Image courtesy of skincare.com.

Plus, there are tons of moisturizers and makeup products out there that are made with SPF. Dermatologists recommend adding foundation, lip gloss, chapstick, or eye cream with SPF to your everyday makeup look or skincare routine. It’s such a simple step, but it will go a long way. Eventually SPF will be so ingrained in your routine that you won't even have to think about it!

Post-Sunshine: Aftercare

Caring for your skin after the fact is just as important as protecting yourself while in the sun. Not only are you reviving your skin after long days in the sun, but you’re taking preventative steps for next time!

Keep hydrating!

Stay hydrated after a day in the sun! We know how vital it is to our skin and general well being. Make sure to drink water consistently and take a cool shower. It feels good and hydrates your skin.

Exfoliate

a tub of exfoliator to help with after-sun care
Exfoliating masks are a great way to fight off environmental stressors and protect from sun damage. Image courtesy of Marla Rene Beauty & Co.

You know that amazing feeling after a long, relaxing beach or pool day when it’s time to head home and shower? Well, you have even more reason to get excited about that feeling! Taking a cool shower after sun exposure is both hydrating and relaxing.

Using a skin exfoliator in the shower will have major benefits for your sun-kissed skin, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Gentle skin exfoliators for your face and body are essential for after-sun care and for dry skin in general.

Moisturize

a bottle of EltaMD tinted moisturizer with SPF
EltaMD makes this tinted moisturizer with SPF. Image courtesy of Lovely Skin.

Always moisturize after your post-sun shower, specifically using an after-sun lotion. Many brands out there carry effective after-sun lotions and lotions for dry skin that will leave your skin feeling soothed and refreshed.

You may not know that sun damage is a huge factor in aging. In fact, nearly 80% of visible facial aging is the result of sun exposure. The good news is, you can totally prevent this! There are so many effective SPF products out there that prevent sun damage, moisturize your skin, and prevent signs of aging.

What to Do About Sunburn

aloe vera plant, great for sunburn
Aloe vera is a plant that offers many benefits.

If you’re sunburned, you’ll still want to exfoliate and moisturize, and maybe apply some aloe vera as well. It’s extremely cooling, moisturizing, and hydrating, as it’s made of mostly water -- everything you need for after-sun care!

Now that you know how to protect your skin while still enjoying the sunshine, it’s time to actually get out there and enjoy it. Don’t forget your sunscreen and your water bottle!