Americans are particularly fond of sunbathing, and who’s to blame them? It wasn’t that long ago when girls would slather themselves in baby oil and bake to a crisp. We know a little better these days and the younger generation of girls have learned to start taking care of their skin at a much earlier age. We now understand, more than ever, the grim realities we face with overexposure to the sun – wrinkles, tough looking skin, sun spots, freckles and even cancer. That being said, we all want the benefits of a great looking tan– the healthy glow, the bronze highlights, and the way colors like mint, pink and white just seem to glimmer off your skin. Just because we shouldn’t prolong our exposure to the sun doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of its magnificent powers, especially if you just so happen to find yourself on a tropical vacation!
I recently found myself on the wonderful island of Ambergris Caye, a modest bit of Belize’s archipelago just off the mainland. If you caught my last post, you might remember the bountiful list of fun bikini-clad adventures that one might encounter while in Belize. It would be nearly impossible, and most certainly depressing to travel all the way to such a irie island and skip out on the outdoor activities.
From food to daily lifestyle, even transportation and hobbies, the Belizeans embrace a more self-sustaining, natural approach to life on the island. With so much to do and the intensity of the sun beating down without much of a break throughout each day, it was particularly important that I remember to take care of my skin and pay it a little more attention than usual. Between the brazen sun, the weathering wind and salty sea air, my hair, nails and skin needed a bit of TLC.
Whether on vacation or just on the road, it’s easy to neglect our skincare routine, after all we aren’t doing much of anything that’s routine when we’re traveling, are we? So let’s go over some ways to pamper our skin, keep it happy, healthy and protect it from all the harmful stuff while we’re off traversing the world. I wish I had a list like this 10 years ago which is why I’m sharing what I know now, with you all. Much of this has been trial and error, as I’ve been learning as I go but I think I’ve found a pretty good balance. I believe that is the key to everything; balance. Oh, and going to dinners that don’t require shoes. I really enjoy that, too.
1. Firstly, if you’re going to fake bake before a trip, be very selective about which brands you use. Do your research, read the ingredients, find out what’s in them and test it out on a small discreet patch of skin before applying it all over. There are plenty of brands that claim to be organic but there are still synthetic chemicals in them. To ensure you are getting a 100% organic product, look for the USDA Organic seal. This guarantees each ingredient has been organically produced, which bans genetic engineering, toxic pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers.
2. If you’re skipping the fake bake session for the real deal, there’s ways to prepare. To get your skin ready for optimum tanning conditions, shave any areas you wish to tan (i.e. your legs, bikini area, armpits). Although removing the hair won’t effect the overall tan, it is still recommended in order to remove dead skin cells, allowing the tan to penetrate into fresh skin and last longer. It is also recommended to lightly exfoliate prior to being out in the sun. If you’re going to fake bake, I would recommend these steps before applying as well.
3. Find a natural sun screen that doesn’t leave a greasy or filmy looking residue. Yes, you still want to wear sun screen even if you’re trying to catch a tan. It will protect your skin from harmful rays and allow you more time for fun in the sun while giving you more of a gradual tan. This is especially important for those that burn easily. You don’t want to spend the rest of your vacation in pain or thinking about how you’re going to look like a boiled lobster in all your photos, trust me.
4. Buy a hat with a wide brim. Not only will you look super chic, but you’ll protect the most fragile skin on your entire body, your face! I admit that I learned this one late in life. I loved the feeling of the sun in my eyes, and from years of sports, it was a feeling that was more than familiar to me. However, to prevent sun damage and crows feet (from squinting), I rarely leave the house without a hat of some sort if I know I’m going to be outside. Don’t worry about your face being a different shade than the rest of your body after tanning, that’s what a quick dab of bronzer is for!
5. Tan or do outdoor activities in intervals. Give your body a break from the UV rays and rest in the shade intermittently if you are going to be outdoors most of the day. Try to limit direct sunlight to about 1-2 hours a day. Remember, you’re going for that natural, gradual tan so it’s better to spend a little bit of time each day working on it instead of all those hours in one day.
6. Avoid peek hours in the sun. As a general rule of thumb, doctors recommend staying out of the sun from 10a.m. to 3p.m. when the UV rays are the strongest. This seems like a pretty broad time frame for me, so I try to avoid sun bathing or doing too many outdoor activities between the hours of 12-2p.m. instead. Granted, that can’t always be arranged when you’re on limited vacation time but it’s good to keep in mind when scheduling snorkeling tours and such.
7. Moisturize, baby! Dry, ashy skin is not cute. Be sure to give yourself a generous rub down at least twice a day, once in the morning, and again after your shower in the evening. I keep a ‘Costco size’ container of organic coconut oil in my bathroom and have made it a habit to do whenever I brush my teeth, since that is usually at least 2x a day. Keeping skin moisturized offsets the effects of aging, brings about a radiant complexion and prolongs the lifespan of your tan.
8. Stay hydrated! I can’t stress this enough! As important as it is for you to moisturize your skin, it’s just as vital to hydrate your insides. Most of us don’t get the recommended daily intake of water as is. It’s crucial for your overall wellbeing but also helps keep your skin looking supple and lively.
9. Eat a nutritious diet. Believe it or not, there are certain foods containing antioxidants and carotenoids that act as a natural sun block. Carotenoids can be found in most foods with vibrant colors or leafy greens. Think carrots, beets, oranges, etc. These carotenoids protect cells from oxidative damage and acts as natures very own sun screen. Aside from all that, eating clean gives your skin a luminous complexion and clears up most skin issues. *For additional information on going about diet reform the right way, get in touch with a certified nutritionist or acupuncturist.
Dress by Nookie
Special Thanks to CLD Style House
Photo by Richie Chance