Whether you’re planning to head to the beach or the slopes this spring break, you should plan ahead to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. Traveling and increased time outdoors can strip your skin’s moisture and leave you at greater risk for sun damage. According to Dr. Trisha Patel of U.S. Dermatology Partners in Dallas, Texas, “From spending time on the shore, in airplanes, or skiing in the mountains, vacations can be tough on skin. Spring breakers are at significantly increased risk for sunburns and skin damage due to sun exposure. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to keep your skin healthy and safe from sun damage at any spring break destination.” In this blog post, Dr. Patel walks through the top five spring break sun protection tips to keep your skin healthy.
Spring Break Sun Protection Tip #1 – Sunscreen is Essential in Warm & Cold Weather Destinations
Sun damage is the leading cause of skin health issues like uneven skin tone, wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. For this reason, using sunscreen appropriately every day is an essential part of any skincare routine. On spring break, you may find yourself spending more time outdoors, and whether you’re visiting a warm beach, cool slope, or somewhere in between, applying the right sunscreen may be even more important on your vacation. To help keep your skin safe from sun damage this spring break, we’ve provided the answers to some of the frequently asked questions we get about sunscreen below.
What Type of Sunscreen Should I Use?
As Dr. Patel says, “While the ideal sunscreen does vary depending on your skin needs, everyone should be using sunscreens that are broad-spectrum, meaning they protect from both UVA and UVB rays. In most cases, we will recommend a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 30; however, higher SPFs do provide additional sun protection and are encouraged. Finally, sunscreens should be water-resistant so as to not immediately wash off the skin due to our surface oil and sweat. Mineral-based sunscreens that typically contain the active ingredients of either titanium or zinc are preferred over chemical-based sunscreens.”
How Much Sunscreen Should I Apply?
Dr. Patel says, “Most people do not apply enough sunscreen. A shot glass filled with sunscreen will be enough to cover most people’s exposed skin in a bathing suit. That’s a lot of sunscreen.” You should apply a complete coat of sunscreen to all exposed areas about 15 minutes prior to going outdoors. Even if you can see the sunscreen on your skin at first, it will soak in during this waiting period. If it’s not absorbed, use a towel to dab off the excess sunscreen.
How Often Should I Reapply?
You need to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours. If you’re going to be in water or sweating heavily, you should reapply every 40 minutes at least.
Spring Break Sun Protection Tip #2 – Plan for Sun Care During Travel
According to Dr. Patel, “When you’re on vacation, it can be easy to put skincare on the back burner. You’re on vacation; you want to relax – not worry about your skin. Unfortunately, changes in your daily routine coupled with travel and increased exposure to the sun’s UVA/UVB rays mean spring break can place a burden on your skin.” To care for your skin and avoid sun damage during spring break, keep the following tips in mind:
- Skip harsh cleansers and exfoliants that can irritate the skin. Instead, use gentle cleansers and apply moisturizer to help avoid drying out when you’re in the sun, wind, airplanes, and other moisture-stripping environments.
- Make skincare part of your vacation. You’re in relaxation mode already, so why not schedule a trip for a moisturizing facial? Don’t have the time or funds for a spa day on vacation? Bring a nourishing cream with you to use in the evening while you’re relaxing.
- Get plenty of sleep. You want to fit it all in on vacation, which may mean you’re staying up late, getting up early, or just making dramatic changes to your sleep routine. When you don’t get enough sleep, skin cells don’t replicate as quickly. This leads to a dull appearance, dark circles under eyes, uneven skin tone, and other irregularities in the appearance of skin. Try to make time for naps or to rest throughout the day if you’re feeling tired.
Spring Break Sun Protection Tip #3 – Pack the Right Gear
In addition to frequent sunscreen applications, you should also ensure you are dressing appropriately to protect your skin from damage. Wear broad-brimmed hats or other full-head coverings including scarves to protect the sensitive skin on your scalp from the sun. This area is difficult to cover with sunscreen. If you’re hitting the slopes for skiing this spring break, remember to wear goggles, gloves, and other protective gear to avoid sun and windburn. Bring coverups and umbrellas with you to the beach, so when you’re not in the water, you can pull on light layers or sit under the umbrella to protect your skin from excess exposure.
Spring Break Sun Protection Tip #4 – Take a Break from the Elements
It can be tempting to spend all day outdoors on a spring break vacation, but it’s important to give your skin a rest, especially during the peak sun exposure hours from 10 am to 4 pm. Instead, during these hours, consider going inside for a meal, visiting an indoor tourist destination, or heading back to the hotel room for an afternoon nap. Spending just an hour or two inside can give your skin a chance to recover from UVA/UVB exposure.
Spring Break Sun Protection Tip #5 – Prepare Skin for Your Vacation
Your destination for spring break may be a sunny beach, a forest trail, or a snowy slope, but wherever you’re heading, you need to be prepared to protect your skin. While you may plan in advance and have the best intentions to care for your skin on vacation, you can still find yourself struggling to keep skin looking and feeling great. In addition to taking care of your skin when you’re on vacation, you can also take some steps before you leave to prepare your skin, including:
- Use a moisturizing face mask the night before travel. Even if you have naturally oily skin, applying a deep moisturizing mask the night before you leave for vacation can keep your skin healthier until you reach your vacation destination.
- Travel “barefaced.” Makeup can strip moisture from the skin, and the textures of some makeup products can trap germs on the surface of the skin during travel.
- If you’re headed to a location with a very different climate, be prepared to address skin concerns that may arise. For example, cold climates are typically dryer, meaning you’ll want to stay moisturized. Whereas, warm-weather destinations typically tend to be humid, increasing your risk for clogged pores and breakouts. To prevent acne, consider washing your face daily with an acne medicated wash or simply soap and water.
So, I Got Sunburned on My Spring Break Trip – What Should I Do Now?
Despite our best efforts, sunburns still happen. Whether you spent a little too much time outdoors, forgot to reapply your sunscreen, or missed a spot, there are steps you can take that make dealing with sunburns a little less painful, including:
- Take cool baths or showers to relieve discomfort and remove dead skin cells naturally.
- Use moisturizers with aloe vera or other deep moisturizing agents to soothe and heal sun-damaged skin.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to keep your skin moisturized from the inside out.
- Do not pop blisters, peel flakes, or otherwise unnecessarily irritate sun-damaged skin as this could lead to more serious skin health risks.
- Protect sun-damaged skin from further damage by wearing protective clothing, applying sunscreen or avoiding further sun exposure.
Call U.S. Dermatology Partners for Skin Care Recommendations
Whether you’re preparing skin for your spring break trip, you want to improve your everyday skincare routine, or you need to heal your skin after sun damage, call on U.S. Dermatology Partners. Dr. Patel and the team in Dallas, TX., are here to help if you live in the area. If you don’t live in Dallas, we have numerous practice locations. You can use our online appointment request form to get started with the U.S. Dermatology Partners location nearest to you.
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