It’s almost, finally, just a few more days until the holidays – can I get a yay!! So, we are all thinking days at the pool, on the beach, in the garden, lapping up the South African rays, right?

This is my, and many people’s idea of a perfect holiday – but looking after ones skin at this time is critical. Even more if you have as many freckles as I do!

I caught up with Lamelle’s Medical Director, Dr Bradley Wagemaker to find out how to reduce our risk of dun burb, and how best to look after our skin these holidays.

Aside from not applying good cover, currently available sunscreen – even broad-spectrum SPF that contains antioxidants – do not provide enough sun protection. South Africa has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, which is why sun protection is not only about keeping your skin looking young and beautiful; it’s about taking steps to prevent developing life-threatening diseases in the future, says Bradley.

It’s important to note that sunburn doesn’t by definition have to mean red raw, blistered peeling skin. The harmful nature of sun exposure can range from undetectable skin changes, to tightness, to red hot skin, to the obvious painful sunburn with blistering and even sun stroke. Finding a remedy for sunburn extends to a wide range of possible skin needs. In choosing a remedy, it’s important to first understand what issues need to be corrected.

At the very heart of sunburn are altered cell functions. These “sunburn cells” are often at the brink of life or death. To fix their injury and avoid excess skin death – the body requires vast quantities of anti-oxidants and gene repairing enzymes. The skin’s own antioxidant stores are very easily depleted after a brief 30 – 45 minute exposure, implying that pre-exposure anti-oxidant skin supplementation and sun protection is the perfect way to start a sunny day.

But what’s to be done if you have already been burnt?

Assuming that we are not dealing with heat or sun stroke, which require a totally different approach, there are a few fundamental basics that should be included in every skin first aid kit for the treatment of sunburn. Thankfully nature has some wonderful solutions to which we can refer:

Tea tree oil is probably the oldest and most well used effective natural remedy, very often used to treat thermal injuries. Tea tree gels can reduce redness, pain and possibly even cell injury.

Other plant derived options include a fantastic super antioxidant – an extract called Pycnogenol – that has been studied extensively for skin protection and health. A reduction in cell death and possibly even cancerous conversion has been clearly proven. It destroys the harmful free radicals that are produced by sunlight and decreases the number of enzymes that directly cause thinning and sagging of the skin.

On top of this, it decreases the damaging and ageing inflammation in the skin, while actively stopping the effects of ageing on the skin and keeping the immunity of the skin intact when exposed to sunlight. Lamelle’s Rescue Repair Gel is very cooling and pumped with Pygnogenol which stops the free radical action caused by sun exposure.

How to recover

In the days after sun exposure it’s critical to continue using anti-oxidant containing products – particularly L-ascorbic acid which is depleted through sun exposure. That and the body doesn’t make it naturally. Found in the skin – this simple vitamin is critical in lowering enzymes that breakdown healthy collagen. It also assists in the production of hyaluronic acid (which helps plump the skin) – without which skin is unable to make good quality healthy adult collagen.

So if you are baking in the sun, and enjoying a cigarette and a few alcoholic drinks, you definitely need to supplement your vitamin C stores in your skin. Taking it orally will help – but the fastest way to get it to your skin is by applying it onto your skin, topically.

Another useful offering from nature is a compound derived from red algae, called Astaxanthen. Studies in humans have shown that treatment after exposure with Astaxanthen can nullify the effect of the sun on the skin. However, early application is essential and reapplication is preferable.

Aloe extract provides significant soothing and skin hydration at the same time by virtue of its healing plant complexes that reduce peeling and redness in the same treatment.

Regretfully menthol laced icy gels do nothing more than provide the illusion of cooling. They themselves don’t repair very much.

Of course once the skin has been damaged through excess sun exposure, it can be dry and flaky, and very sensitive – particularly the day or two following the initial burn. At this stage of the skin’s post-burn recovery, a product that’s more occlusive (like Lamelle’s Barrier Repair cream) provides a great deal of comfort. Products designed to be used after peels and in salon treatments are ideal for this.

They are generally rich, creamy and help to protect the underlying injured skin until it heals completely. These products are purely occlusive and keep the skin hydrated and protected while it heals. So use your Vitamin C or Hyaluronic acid containing ingredients underneath these thick creamy creams.

Prevention is better than Cure

A healthy skin can be defined as skin that has an intact barrier, is not over exposed to sun, has a healthy 28 day shedding rate (or there about) and does not react to products and treatments. When skin has been over exposed to sun, it has a rough texture and doesn’t shed properly which will cause a leathery, dull appearance. This skin can also become unpredictable and can contract or develop unexplainable infections and sun related illnesses.

Before leaving home or going into the sun – make sure that you opt for a photoprotection product like Helase 50 that not only has the unique ability to protect the skin from all the harmful effects of the full spectrum of sunlight, but also fixes recent DNA damage that had been caused by the sun and the free radicals produced during sun exposure. It contains UVA and UVB sunscreens that protect from harmful light frequencies by providing SPF 50 protection.

For more on sun protection products – visit www.lamelle.co.za

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