Photos: Julio Alvite
The body’s largest organ is the skin. Put like that, it’s impressive. And especially because taking care of our skin contributes to health and beauty and helps to ensure a pleasant appearance.
The skin’s layers (epidermis, outer, and dermis, inner) play essential roles: they act as barriers against external agents, covering and containing our sensory receptors and regulating body temperature. Without them, our bodies would be left unprotected.
Aestheticians and specialists say that the adult body should have hydration percentage levels of 80-70-13; that is, we should have 80 percent water in the dermis, 65 to 70 percent in the epidermis and 13 percent in the top layer of our skin, which is the stratum corneum. If these levels drop suddenly, our skin begins to sag and becomes dehydrated, and wrinkles appear prematurely.
This is why we need to know that being exposed to the sun requires special care and vigilance to avoid any possible after-effects. The first measure is easy: not to expose ourselves to the sun when its rays fall vertically to the earth. Solar radiation is most intense approximately between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The beach, swimming pool, camping and walking around outdoors all require precautions. These include using large umbrellas or tents; covering up with hats or scarves and wearing cool, comfortable clothing. This helps to ease the effects of the sun and its reflection on water and sand. These are effects that also are present on cloudy days.
However, we should not forget the benefits, either. The cheerfulness and brightness of the sun helps our bodies to unload accumulated stress. It contributes to our general equilibrium and helps in eliminating dead layers from the epidermis, contributing to the skin’s vitality and regeneration.
There are three types of light rays in the nature: infrared; visible, which can be seen, and ultraviolet, which make the skin darker.
Ultraviolet rays cause a number of our body’s defense mechanisms to go into action. When our skin turns red, it acts as a screen to prevent these rays from penetrating (deeply). And the cells of our dermis form a protective shield: melanin, the pigment that causes tanning.
This intense color (more or less brown, toasted, burned…), which is acquired during our greatly appreciated time outdoors, is one of our body’s usual defense mechanisms. When there is too much in a short amount of time, the harmful effects make themselves felt. This is why it is absolutely true that the most natural, attractive and lasting tan is acquired little by little, and not by lying still and frying in the sun.
Dehydration is also a danger. We should drink as much liquid as possible. In addition to water, that should include refreshing beverages, fruit juices, lemonade, tea…. We should drink an average of at least two liters, or about eight and a half cups, daily, and avoid alcoholic beverages as much as possible. Not at all advisable.
Use sun protection all over the body, renewing the product every half hour. Chest, back, face, arms, thighs, legs, feet….
Bathe in fresh water and rinse hair to remove all traces of salt. This is not a time for soaps or shampoos, but for natural softeners. Teas like chamomile, rosemary, mint and essential oils are all our allies for maintaining smooth, soft skin.
Be careful with cosmetics. Out in the sun, control the use of perfume, makeup, cologne, creams and perfumed deodorant. They can cause irritation and even allergies.
When we are outside, the sun is concentrated on our head, forehead, nose and eyelids…. Sun hats or straw hats provide protection. The brim mitigates the effects of the sun’s rays on the back, shoulders and above all the chest.
Our lips are also affected. They are very sensitive and the sun can cause chapping, burns, ulcers, cracks and pimples. They require good nutrition. Soften them with honey, creams and special ointments.
Let’s not be confused. Even if we are exposed to the sun with wet skin, the aggression to our skin is the same (stinging, possible burning). That action just makes the heat easier to bear, because the wetness and air refresh our skin.
Cotton clothing is the most appropriate. They allow the sun’s rays to be transpired and filtered, which is the opposite of what happens with fabrics that use synthetics. Dark colors absorb more light and heat than light colors.
In short, our skin is a reflection of what is happening inside the wonderful complex of the human body. Paying maximum attention to warning signs that our body sends is essential to ensuring health and an attractive appearance.