Here Comes the Sun…Run for Cover

The heat is on or at least one hopes so in summer time.  Whether you travel in summer or winter the sun’s powerful rays can leave lasting damage to your skin and overall health. Here are some sun smart tips to help protect you naturally from the star of the Solar System.

Arm yourself with SPF
Apart from the ubiquitous sunscreen lotions and sprays, there are also clothes and umbrellas made with SPF i.e. sun protection factor. These are wise investments that will more than pay for themselves many times over.

There are 2 types: chemical and natural. The former must be applied about 20 minutes before going into the sun in order to be effective while the latter can be applied just before going out into the sun. Natural sunscreens tend to be made of minerals that block the sun (i.e. zinc and titanium). Apply accordingly and reapply often, especially if you will be outdoors for a prolonged period and sweating a lot. Otherwise, seek cover to avoid the sun’s rays.

Go vampire
Avoid being outside during the most potent period of sunlight, generally 10am-4pm. This is a good time for indoor activities such as museum and art gallery visits.
And while not offering complete protection from the sun the shade of trees can help reduce the amount of ultraviolet light that touches your skin. Have a picnic in the park to cool off a little.

Stay hydrated
Make sure to drink plenty of water, eat foods with a high water content (watermelon and cucumber are great choices) and avoid diuretic substances like alcohol and caffeine.

And just when you thought it was safe
There are a number of ways the sun’s damaging rays can still infiltrate in insipid ways:
Some medications can increase photosensitivity (e.g. some malaria medications).
Up, up and away
Flying at high altitudes exposes you to a higher amount of radiation.
A reflection on you
Sand, snow and water can reflect sunlight thus continuing your exposure to UV rays.
As much we love our essential oils, some of them also increase photosensitivity (e.g. most of the citrus oils such as bergamot, lemon, lime and also St. John’s Wort oil). It is wise to use them several hours away from being in the sun.

While the sun helps give life to this planet it can also take it away. Be aware of how to protect yourself, be vigilant with your sun protection plan and enjoy your travels.

Sunset in Rarotonga. Photo by Kimberley (c)2009

Sunset in Rarotonga. Photo by Kimberley (c)2009

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