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Winter Sun Safety

It’s easy to associate stringent skin protection with the spring and summer months, and also winter holidays in the sun. With temperatures plummeting, winter in the U.K. firmly here, fewer hours of daylight and overcast days, it is still vital to employ vigilant sun protection, regardless of the weather or time of the year.

Even on the coldest of days the UV rays that cause skin ageing and skin cancer are reaching your skin. In the right conditions you can sustain skin damage just as easily as in the summer sun. Additionally, skin cancer detection rates are lower during the winter months, as people pile on the layers for colder weather, and neglect their essential skin health checks.

UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn, are the strongest in summer, however, UVB rays can burn your skin all year round. This is more prevalent at higher altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow and ice. Snow reflects up to 80 per cent of the sun’s UV light, which means that the harmful rays hit you twice, increasing the risks of skin cancer and premature ageing.

UVA rays are constant all year round, and can penetrate through clouds and fog. They can also penetrate glass resulting in possible skin damage while staying indoors on a bright winter day. Some studies have noted that UVA has an 80 per cent risk of causing premature ageing. UVA causes age spots, and destroy collagen which leads to skin sagging.

Unlike UVB rays, which cause sunburn, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, causing invisible damage. The feeling of being burned by the sun is not present with UVA, and the side effects are slow acting, resulting in being unaware of the damage that is being done.

UVA makes up 95 per cent of the sun’s rays, making it all the more vital to protect against it in winter. It can, and will, create mutations in the DNA that can lead to aggressive basal and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers.

The first line of defence in winter is clothing, not only as protection from the cold. Do not forget to adequately protect the face, head, and neck all year round, as this is where most skin cancers occur. UV-blocking glasses and a wide-brimmed hat are advised before heading out in to the sun. Sunglasses or ski goggles protect your eyes from snow glare, and a hat will protect your scalp, while keeping your head warm.

Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, with a bare minimum of SPF-30 or higher repeatedly to all exposed skin throughout the day, ensuring that often missed spots, such as tops of ears, the hairline, and around the eyes. A moisturising sunscreen with ingredients such as lanolin or glycerin will also help combat dry winter skin.

No matter your location, also choosing a waterproof sunscreen is advisable, for the rain in England, snow while skiing, or the sea on sunny holidays. A lip balm with an SPF-30 will protect your lips, especially the lower lip, which is vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Avoid the sun when it is at its strongest, typically between 11am and 3pm.

Do not visit tanning booths to work on a ‘base tan’ before heading off to sunny winter holidays, as this exposure does not protect you from the harmful UVB rays, and it will actually increase the risk of skin cancers and premature ageing. There is a 20 per cent increase in melanoma with exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning. Remember, there is no such thing as healthy tanning.

Certain creams and medications, for example retinol products and chemical peels can make the skin more photosensitive. Tetracycline-based antibiotics, including those used for acne treatment can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

While paler skin is a factor in sun sensitivity, even those with darker skin can get damage from harmful rays. They might not suffer the effects as quickly due to having natural protection, but that certainly does not mean they cannot get skin cancer.

The sooner a skin cancer is detected, identified and treated, the better the chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of melanoma or other skin cancers, potential disfigurement or even death. It is important to know your skin, develop a regular routine of checking your skin for any changes to existing moles or freckles.

Make sure you check your entire body as skin cancers can occur on parts of the body not exposed to the sun, such as the soles of the feet, between fingers and toes and under nails. Undress completely and make sure you have good light. Use a mirror to check hard to see areas such as the back and scalp.

It is important to consult a doctor or dermatologist immediately if any abnormal changes are discovered, and never ignore any of the warning signs such as the change in colour or shape of existing spots, raised, firm to the touch, bleeding or crusty moles. If left untreated, they can spread to other areas of the body.

It is not suggested that the darker winter months be spent in hibernation away from daylight entirely. The body requires vitamin D, of which sunlight is an excellent source. It is essential for a healthy body, teeth, and bones, and helps fight depression.

Staying safe, and protected from harmful sunlight is vital all year round, whatever the weather, and whatever the season, and not only yourself, but your family, and especially children. Keep covered, use high SPF factor sunscreen, and a little forward thinking will make sure you remain healthy and happy.

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8 Winter Skincare Tips For A Healthy Glow

Winter is upon us and as wonderful as this time of year can be, with all those festive parties and nights out celebrating in style with friends and family, it can really take its toll on our skin, leaving it looking and feeling dry, discoloured and even painful if we’re not careful. It’s not just the partying – the weather can have a big impact as well, leaving your skin feeling red, itchy and irritated.

The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to make sure that your skin takes the winter weather in its stride, no matter how many nights out you go on and no matter how much the wind, rain and snow tries to break you. You do have to be on top of it, however, so here are a few tips to help you make sure your skin stays looking healthy and glowing from now right through until spring.

Stay hydrated

Hydration will always be your skin’s first line of defence and you must make sure that you drink enough water each day to keep you well hydrated. If you wait until you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated so try to have six sips of water or so each hour to keep you properly hydrated throughout the day.

Your skin will really thank you for this as drinking water can help to flush out toxins in your body that can result in breakouts, acne and dry skin. Remember that if you’re exercising you should drink an extra one to two litres of water per hour of exercise to keep your hydration levels up.

Take your makeup off

Again, this rule applies no matter what time of year it is but it’s perhaps especially important during the festive season when you’re likely to be out and about more, celebrating with loved ones. Always make sure that you take your makeup off at the end of the night before you get into bed, even if you can’t quite get it together enough to do your full nighttime skincare routine.

Remember that if a job is worth doing well, it’s also worth doing poorly – so always do the most that you’re able to at a particular moment in time, even if it’s just wiping your makeup off at 2am before falling fast asleep. Your skin will thank you for it in the morning, we promise.

Avoid foaming face wash

Your skin is likely to be drier at this time of year and if you find yourself really suffering, you might want to change the face wash you’re using, as this could be having an impact on the look and feel of your skin.

If you find yourself really struggling with dry skin right now and are worried that it’s only going to get worse, avoid foaming face washes like the plague. While these do make your skin feel incredibly clean, they strip it of all its natural moisture – which you really need during the winter months.

Instead, use an oil-based cleanser to take your makeup off and follow it up with something like this Ultra Facial Cleanser from Kiehl’s, which features avocado oil, vitamin E and apricot oil to keep your skin feeling soft and well hydrated.

Don’t forget the sun cream

You might think you don’t need to wear sun cream at this time of year but you’d be wrong… you should always make sure that you include sun cream in your skincare regime somewhere to make sure you’re protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. The easiest way of doing this is investing in a day cream that already has SPF in it, so you don’t even have to think about it.

Remember that if you’ve gone away for a snow holiday that snow can reflect the sun’s rays and increase your risk of exposure, so always make sure you protect your skin properly – even if you think it’s a bit of a grey day and the risks are minimal.

Eat healthily

Temptation is rife at this time of year and you should never feel guilty for overindulging on the cake, sweets and chocolates… but bear in mind that your skin may well reflect your dietary choices over the next few weeks so try and balance the gluttony out with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well.

Use a humidifier

Never forget that the drier the air at home, the drier your skin will be so you may want to increase the amount of water in the air. You can do this easily by using a humidifier either in the living room or the bedroom (or wherever you spend most of your time at home). This will increase moisture levels in the air and help your skin stay properly hydrated.

Try some light exfoliation

Exfoliation is essential for healthy skin and if you suffer from dry skin, you won’t be able to get rid of it easily without a bit of buffing each week. Go for a gentle product to help get rid of all those dead skin cells and make sure that you use soft gentle movements while exfoliating to avoid damaging the skin itself.

Exfoliate once or twice a week and remember that doing it more than this can actually have a negative impact on your skin and even make your skin look older than it is.

Don’t forget nighttime skincare

Make your products work hard for you even as you sleep, hydrating your skin without you even having to think about it. Anything with avocado in it will really help give you a hydration boost and you could even go for an overnight hydrating mask to make sure you wake up looking fresh as a daisy, no matter what the weather is doing outside.