Our skin is the largest organ of the body, covering the entire body head to toe. Its primary reason for existence is to protect the body. Therefore, it is our job to protect our skin. This way you maintain a good barrier between your environment and the inside of your body. Plus by protecting your skin, you keep it looking and feeling healthy, because no one likes the look of premature aging.
One of the main antagonists of the skin is the sun. Burning hot at about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit, the sun’s UV rays damage and destroy the skin even though its 93 million miles away from the earth. Its heat sucks out all the moisture in the skin making it dry, red and blistered. Extended exposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to irreversible skin damage such as skin cancer, wrinkles, freckles, age spots, discoloration, and benign growths.
The best defense against ultraviolet rays is sunscreen. Its only common sense to put sunscreen on when you go to the beach, because the extended sun exposure can lead to a sunburn. If you repeatedly get sunburns, eventually your skin cells will become damaged. This can lead to skin cancer. However, you shouldn’t just wear sunscreen when you go to the beach, especially if you live in the southern states, where it’s sunny most days out of the year. Wearing sunscreen should be a daily affair. Now many products such as lotion and cosmetics contain UV protection right in the product, which makes it easier to remember to apply it to your skin. However, it’s essential especially if you are outside for most of the day to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours to ensure protection against UV rays. Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate an ingredient that strips the natural oils from the skin.
Remember that even if you live in the north it is still possible to get sun burnt when the sun is not out or the sky is overcast. Ultraviolet rays reflect off of water, sand, concrete, snow and light color surfaces. They can also penetrate windows and water to a certain extent. So there is a perpetual need to use sunscreen when you are outdoors.
Although sunscreen is your first line of defense against the UV rays, covering up with clothing, staying in the shade, and avoiding tanning beds are other ways to reduce your exposure to the sun’s rays. Long sleeve shirts, long pants, baseball caps and wide brim hats are all clothing that can cover your skin and reduce your UV ray exposure. The sun is most intense during the middle of the day. So try to avoid being out in the sun at that time.
While most people would think water is our skins best friend, when skin is exposed to water externally it dries out the skin. When we ingest water, the water keeps our skin supple and hydrated. However, when you go swimming, bath or shower the water opens up the pores allow valuable moisture to escape, which dries out the skin. Therefore limit your showers to 5-10 minutes and use warm, not hot water. When you get out apply lotion or moisturizers right after you dry off. Your pores will still be open allowing the lotion to add moisture back into the skin. Also remember to drink lots of water throughout the day to replenish what is lost through perspiration, expiration and respiration.
Proper skin care is also essential for protecting the skin. Washing the face removes dirt, oil, germs, dead cells, bacteria and viruses. Over washing sensitive areas such as the face can actually damage the skin and remove the body’s natural barrier oils. Under washing can leave bacteria and viruses on the face that can cause cold sores and acne. Avoid sharing personal items such as cups, toothbrushes, Chap Stick and cosmetics. Gently wash your skin in a circular motion, rinsing thoroughly and patting the skin dry. Apply moisturizer to skin to keep it supple and youthful.
Protecting your skin doesn’t have to be difficult. With proper care, nourishment and protection you skin will remain young, smooth and beautiful.
Sarah Labdar, “Protect Your Skin From Damage”, Everyday Health