This is no problem, generally. Living in the UK I’m hardly sheltering from blazing sun on a daily basis. But when the sun does shine I want to go out and enjoy it. I don’t want to stay hidden inside, gazing out of the window as others frolic in sunlit meadows.
Apart from the aesthetic considerations, which are a matter of personal taste, we all know that over exposure to the Sun also carries with it other, more sinister, problems like skin cancer and premature aging.
Fortunately a few simple precautions can stop me (and you) turning into a frazzled, wizened, cancerous old hag the second the sun starts shining.
Whilst I don’t want to be tanned I also don’t particularly want skin that looks blue, mottled and patchy. I’d like a smooth, even complexion, all over, thanks. Skin that all winter looked delicately pale can suddenly look almost ghostly in bright sunlight, and it’s not a look I particularly like any more than I like that perma tanned look.
To achieve, and maintain a nicely even skin tone over the summer there are 3 things I use. Body Scrub, Moisturiser and *gasp* a tanning product.
What I actually use is one of those “gradual tan” products, mine is from Avon. I can’t find it online, but you can get them everywhere. I find the palest shade, applied maybe once a fortnight to my arms, legs and decollette, not my face, gives me a more even skin tone over the summer and stops me glowing in bright sunlight. I tend to stop using this part way through the summer as if I’ve got any colour from the sun at all it can still be too much.
Using a Body Scrub twice a week helps maintain an even skin tone by removing dead skin cells, unblocking your pores which will be full of nasty summer stuff like sweat and suncream and helping any tan lines you do accidentally get to disappear as soon as possible. Currently I use Soap & Glory Flake Away, which I’ve found is an excellent (and cheaper) alternative to my favourite Clinique product.
After showering Slathering on the moisturiser will help keep your skin hydrated and silky smooth. Do this while your skin is still slightly damp to lock in as much moisture as possible. I prefer to use a rich body butter, I’m currently using Soap & Glory Righteous Butter, I love the smell, though this isn’t quite as rich as I really like.
Finally, it is important to drink extra water when the weather is warm. Staying hydrated will keep your skin looking plump and smooth.
The only real way to not catch the sun at all in the Summer is just not to go out in the sun. But where’s the fun in that? Besides, the sun is good for you, elevating your mood and helping your body produce vitamin D. If you’re really dedicated then long sleeves, staying inside and a high SPF when you scurry to the shops for supplies are your only options.
I’m not that dedicated. I like country walks, picnics and lazing in the park on Sunday afternoons with a pile of newspapers. So a little extra help is needed.
You should always use a minimum SPF 15 when you go out in the sun, but even the highest SPF creams won’t really stop you getting some colour if you spend a whole day outside. Sun creams have a tendency to rub off on clothes and disappear if you get sweaty and even an SPF 100 will only block 99% of the suns UVB rays.
Using a high factor SPF on my body and a foundation with built in SPF on my face, taking a scarf to protect my shoulders when the sun is at it’s highest, large sunglasses and, most recently, a parasol are my attempts at keeping out of the sun as much as possible.
The key to not finding yourself taken by surprise with tan lines is to be prepared. ALWAYS make a sun cream part of your daily routine and take a scarf or cardigan, even if you’re not expecting to be outside much, and then you won’t get caught out.
Ok, so you didn’t listen to all my helpful advice and now you have strap marks and patchy arms.
If you are properly sun burnt your only option is to stick it out. Use an aftersun lotion or a good moisturiser all over several times a day, ease the pain with cool showers and drink LOTS of water to rehydrate yourself. If you are in a lot of pain try taking ibruprofen.
If you are just embarrassingly patchy there are ways you can cover it up, and increase cell renewal to speed up the disappearance of your tan lines.
On your face, make up is an obvious solution, but beware of applying too much pale make up and looking like you are wearing a mask. The best solution is to apply a fine layer of your regular foundation to even out any patchiness, blend well, and use products like blusher and bronzer to prevent it looking too mask like. Using a green foundation primer like this one from No7 may also help tone down any redness.
On your body you can also use make up to even your skin tone. I use Avon Flawless legs if I’m going without stockings, it works to cover bruises, bites and stings as well as tan lines. (UPDATE: I now use a bronzing body lotion from Soap & Glory again)
Speed it Up:
Be careful with any heavy exfoliating products. If your skin is sensitive after exposure to the sun, you could make it worse. Using moisturisers on your face and body containing AHAs can help speed up skin renewal and exfoliating gently with a face cloth will remove dead skin cells stop your tan looking patchy.
If you use a gradual tanner at all then next time you apply avoid any areas that are already tanned to help even out the tone of your skin quicker.
So there you are, those are my best tips to keep perfect skin when the sun shines.