In South Africa, people are gearing up to enjoy the great outdoors before winter arrives. It's the perfect time to bask in the sun and relish the benefits the outdoors has to offer for mind and body.
However, summer brings the need for caution, especially when it comes to taking care of our skin.
From November to March, summer in South Africa means hot days. Temperatures can hit 40ºC, especially in areas like the Karoo. Beach outings, poolside fun and hiking are popular activities.
But as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted, the risk of heat stress is growing, with up to 76% of the global population potentially facing deadly heat conditions by the end of the century.
Enjoying the summer sun does come with potential risks, like sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer. It's not just about the immediate pain and redness, either.
The sun also contributes to more gradual skin damage, like wrinkles, early ageing, dark spots and even changes to the DNA in our skin cells.
To help South Africans stay safe while enjoying the sun, Lamelle Research Laboratories has provided five tips:
Try to avoid the sun during peak hours
Between 10 am and 2pm, the sun’s UV rays are at its strongest, so it’s best to limit your exposure during these hours. Try to schedule your walks and swims for the early morning or the afternoon.
Cover up when you go outside
Invest in a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and a kaftan or wrap to wear when you get out of the water, and try to cover up as much of your skin whenever possible.
Reapply your sun protection product regularly
You are aware of the necessity of wearing a high-quality SPF product throughout the entire year, even during winter.
This is due to the fact that UVA radiation from the sun, which causes accelerated ageing, can harm your skin even when it is cloudy. In the summer, once a day is not enough.
Even if the product states that it is “water-resistant”, you need to reapply it after every swim or every hour if you plan on spending time outside. Not only will this help avoid a painful burn but it will also help prevent the formation of hyperpigmentation and signs of ageing.
Don’t forget the hidden spots
Most of us don’t take the time to apply SPF to all the smaller parts of our bodies, such as our ears, hairline or feet. Take care to apply your SPF all over – even in the areas you think won’t be exposed. After all, the ears are one of the most common places for skin cancer to form.
Moisturise – even if your skin isn’t dry
The sun has a dehydrating effect on the skin, and if you’re spending lots of time outside, you may notice your skin getting drier. Don’t wait for your skin to become extremely dry before you moisturise – hydrated skin is healthier, plumper and looks younger.
Apply a moisturiser to your face twice a day (even on hot days) and at least once a day on your body to keep your skin healthy, happy and strong.
How do you know which sun protection product to choose?
With summer in full swing, South Africans are encouraged to choose the right sunscreen to shield their skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Experts suggest looking for "broad spectrum" products, which guard against both UVA rays, known for causing skin ageing, and UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburn.
Adding sunscreen with antioxidants can be beneficial, as it boosts the skin’s defence against dark spots and fights free radicals that lead to faster ageing.
Lamelle offers robust sun protection with its two powerful products: Helase 50+ and Helase Urban Defense. A product like Helase 50+, priced at R600, offers comprehensive protection, tackling the entire range of sunlight effects.
It includes Pycnogenol®, an antioxidant that fends off harmful free radicals, reduces enzymes that cause the skin to thin and sag and prevents inflammation and ageing effects on the skin while maintaining its immunity during sun exposure.
For city dwellers, Lamelle Helase Urban Defence 30, at R585, is tailored to reduce the effects of urban pollution. It's packed with potent antioxidants to minimise ageing, inflammation and pigmentation while providing UVA, UVB, and visible light protection suitable for all skin types and crucial for preventing pigmentation in darker skin tones.
Statistics from the National Cancer Registry highlight the urgency for diligent sun care, with 22 712 South Africans diagnosed with common skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and 2 166 cases of melanoma recorded in 2019.
By using appropriate sun protection, we can savour summer activities while keeping our skin safe and healthy.
This season, take extra precautions for a brighter, healthier complexion.