Our skin looks smoother, our eyes and teeth whiter and our abs more defined – there’s really nothing like a glowing, golden tan to boost your self-confidence and it’s one of our favourite things about the summer.
But while we love to smugly check out our tanlines after training in the heat, it’s important to bear in mind the havoc that the sun can wreak on our bodies, from drying out our hair to increasing our risk of developing skin cancer. Protect yourself from harmful UV rays during your next al fresco workout (or pub garden session, we’re not judging) with these tips:
Recent research has found that whether you have naturally pale, olive or darker skin, sun damage affects us all to some extent. So, even if you’re one of the lucky ones who never seems to burn, it’s still important to stay protected against ageing lines and wrinkles, pigmentation issues and skin cancers. Dermatologists advise we stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, wear a hat and sunglasses and use broad spectrum sun protection of at least SPF30. You should apply sun protection 15 to 30 minutes before you go into the sun, reapplying every two hours and after swimming or exercise. Want to get the glow without the risk? Try Marula Dry Oil Self Tan SPF 50, a super-moisturising fake tan for the body with high sun protection. £39, available at Boots.
Try to wear sun protection on your face all year round and look for beauty products with ingredients that will help boost levels of collagen and elastin to maintain skin firmness. Make sure you also protect the eye area as this is one of the first places to show sun damage. Perfecting Minerals by Elizabeth Arden Pro is an SPF25 broad-spectrum mineral powder that comes in six shades and works well as a foundation. £29, elizabethardenpro.com
Sun, salt water, chlorine – summer in general is a tough time for your hair, so boost your lacklustre locks with UV protectors and post-beach rescuers. There are tons of products available, but we love the L’Oreal Professionnel Absolut Repair Lipidium Masque, a conditioning combo of keratin, ceramides and lipids which replenishes sunparched hair and protects against further damage. £12.99, lookfantastic.com
A vibrant lippie sets off a golden tan beautifully, but the effect can be somewhat ruined when your lips are dry and chapped from the sun. Being the area of the body with the least layers of skin, extra care should be taken with your kissers all year round, so be sure to keep a moisturising balm handy. We love the High Protection Sun Care Lipscreen from Uvistat – with an SPF of 50, it offers UVA and UVB protection and contains nourishing vitamin E and tea tree oil. £5.06, uvistat.com
For working out in the sun, you need a lightweight sweat-wicking hat or visor that offers lots of shade without getting in your way. Not only will it keep the sun off your face, but it also tucks your hair neatly away as you exercise. As luck would have it, baseball caps are set to be the next big thing this summer, so there are plenty of stylish options available for you to choose from.
Your regular pair of sunglasses might block UV rays just as well, but if your workout is on the longer side you may want to invest in a pair of sport-specific sunglasses. These have details that you’ll appreciate as you sweat through a hot-weather workout – we’re talking nonslip nose pads, durable construction and comfortable frames. Look for lenses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
If you’re fair-skinned or spending lots of time outdoors or on the water this summer, opting for UPFrated workout clothes may be a good idea. While all clothing offers defense against the sun, these are rated based on how well they protect you from UV radiation, and those with a rating of UPF 15 or higher are made specifically to ensure that they block as many rays as possible
Known as nature’s suncream, tomatoes are a major source of an antioxidant called lycopene, which has been proven to provide long-term protection against UV-radiation-induced effects. Watermelon also contains lycopene, so stock up on the red stuff.
This food may not only help prevent sun damage, but could even reverse it. In a recent Korean study, 30 healthy women received a daily dose of 30 milligrams of beta carotene (about six carrots’ worth) for three months. As a result, the antioxidants both protected and repaired cells from photoaging. Sweet potatoes are also a major source of skin-protecting beta-carotene.
Vitamin C fruits:
Think strawberries, kiwis and oranges for a healthy dose of vitamin C, which helps kill off free radicals that your body produces in response to the cellular damage caused by exposure to sunlight.
Almonds and sunflower seeds:
Both of these contain vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant that protects against sun damage. This vitamin has also proven to slow the ageing of skin cells and help diminish the appearance of scars.
The delicious dark stuff, when made of 65 percent or more raw cocoa, contains amazing antioxidants called flavonoids, which help protect the body from sun damage. Enjoy a couple of squares with green tea, which also contain flavonoids.