How To Prevent Awful Sunburn On The Beach

Get sun-kissed, not scorched.

Sun-kissed skin has always been considered a status symbol, as those who get tanned (maybe deliberately) can afford to jet or sail to summer getaways around the world for months, while the rest of us, mortals, get by at the local community pool on the weekend. But while a tan is most welcome this time of year, you don’t want to risk looking like a Cheeto (FYI, natural tanning is much preferred over fake tans)—or worse, fried and burned. Here, a few tips to get sun-kissed, not scorched.

1| First, know what your skin can do
There’s no one rule to tanning naturally, a process that largely depends on your skin tone. Skin tones are generally classified using the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale, which lists a total of six skin types measuring the skin’s tolerance to sunlight—in other words, whether it will tan or burn.

Asians usually fall somewhere between Fitzpatrick type three to six, ranging from light brown to very dark brown. The lighter the skin, the more prone it is to sunburn, hence, the more tricky it is to get a tan. Keep this in mind.


2| Soak up the sun before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m.
When soaking up the sun or partaking in any outdoor activity, it’s best to do it in the morning, when the sun has just risen, or in the late afternoon, about an hour before sunset. The time between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is when the sun is at its hottest. Seek shade and go people-watching at the bar while you wait.

3| Slather on sun protection
First, know the difference between sunblock and sunscreen. Sunblock contains physical blockers such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are strong enough to deflect UV rays. These are often used by athletes like football players and surfers who are in constant contact with the sun.

For a sheerer formula that doesn’t look like chalk or paint, sunscreen uses chemicals to absorb UV light, which then minimizes sun damage. Either is okay. It's really just a matter of preference (how it feels) and need.

A few more things: You can go with a minimum of SPF 15, but a higher SPF rating will always be best; choose a sunblock or sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays; and for total protection, apply and re-apply a generous amount on your skin.

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4| Take tanning breaks in between
It’s never a good idea to tan for hours on end. Eventually, your skin will reach a saturation point when it can no longer produce more melanin, the pigment that makes your skin darker. When you go beyond that point, you risk getting UV damage.

As mentioned, avoid sun exposure at the height of the sun's powers. This would a good time to take a break from deliberate tanning. If you have lighter skin, you need to take even more breaks to minimize the chance of a sunburn. After all, your skin doesn’t stop tanning after you’ve gone indoors.

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Sam Beltran
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