Of all the great things that the summer months bring, perhaps the most anticipated is the sun. The comforting warmth and the emotional high felt from the sun’s mood-boosting glimmers of light are enough to keep us craving more time in the sunshine.
But sun lovers beware – excessive sun exposure does more harm than good for our bodies. The sun is the primary source of two harmful rays: UVA and UVB rays. These rays can damage our cell’s DNA, promote premature aging such as wrinkles, serve as the leading cause of sunburns, and play a significant role in the development of skin cancer.
In recent years, we’ve seen a trend in sunbathers trading in tan lines and sunkissed skin for sunscreen and self-tanners, but what about the other effects the sun’s rays can have from head to toe?
Sun Damaged Hair
Between chlorine, saltwater, and the sun’s UV rays and heat, our hair takes a beating during the summer. These elements can strip moisturize from the surface layer of our hair (known as the hair cuticle), resulting in dry, brittle, and even thinning hair prone to breakage. Damage to the cuticle can expose the cortex layer underneath where color pigment resides, also causing hair color to fade faster. Sun hats are a fun and fashionable way to protect all layers of your hair, (including your scalp) from sun damage, while also shielding your face, neck, and ears! The summer months are also a good time to take a break from heat-styling tools to avoid further breakage. (Sorry hair straightener – it’s not me, it’s you).
Sun Damaged Skin
No one wants the uncomfortable lobster-look or pain associated with sunburns. But more importantly, no one wants skin cancer from overexposed, burned skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen that is water-resistant, contains SPF 30+, and offers broad-spectrum protection, meaning protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Moreover, UV rays can break down our skin’s collagen, resulting in other long-term effects like premature aging (dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles). Collagen is a protein that helps skin appear full and smooth, and is also responsible for repairing body tissue. Fortunately for those who are already experiencing signs of premature aging and sun damage increased hydration and collagen consumption can help smooth your skin, in addition to certain prescription skincare treatments containing tretinoin – an ingredient that promotes skin cell turnover and collagen production.
Sun Damaged Nails
Your nails don’t get a pass either when it comes to sun damage, unfortunately. So when using sunscreen, it’s important to remember to apply it to your hands and feet to prevent skin cancer from developing under your nail beds. Much like with our skin and hair, the sun can dry out our nails too, making them brittle and easily breakable. Not to mention, too much sun can also cause nails to turn yellow and develop ridges. A nail polish with UV protection can absorb or deflect the sun’s rays and keep your nails looking smoother, so summer beauty doesn’t have to be so hard after all!