When a heatwave rolls through, it does more than just make you sweat. The harsh sunlight can quickly damage your skin, so it’s important that you protect yourself whenever you’re outdoors. Even if you practice good skin care in northern Colorado, you still need to be aware of how a heatwave can affect your skin. Here are some important reminders of how to keep your skin safe during a heatwave.


Stay Indoors if Possible


The best way of protecting your skin from the sun is to simply avoid it. While most of us have to go outdoors at some point during the day, you can minimize the amount of time you’re in the sun. During a heatwave, it’s likely so hot out that you don’t want to be away from the air conditioning anyway.


woman sitting on the couch inside with a drink in her hand


If you do have to go out, try to time it so you’re not out during the heat of the day. This occurs during the afternoon between noon and four o’clock. During this time, temperatures peak, and the sun’s rays are typically harder to avoid because they’re coming straight down from above. Try to schedule any outdoor tasks or errands either in the morning or in the evening when at all possible. Also, check the weather before making plans and schedule them on cooler days if at all possible.


Dress Appropriately


One way of taking care of your skin in the heat is to block the sun from reaching it. However, wearing long sleeves and pants often feels stifling and can lead to overheating in the summer. If at all possible, do wear a light long-sleeved shirt and pants if you have to be in the sun for any significant length of time. Doing so will help keep the sun from directly hitting your skin. Note that this doesn’t mean you have to wear jeans or clothing made out of heavy material. Long-sleeved t-shirts and lightweight track pants will protect your skin from the sun and aren’t that heavy. Loose clothing is also a great option.


Be sure to wear a hat, too. The top of your head and back of your neck can easily get sunburnt if you don’t. You do want to make sure the hat you’re wearing protects all of your head and neck. A baseball cap may seem to offer protection to your face, but the way the back is designed on most does leave some areas exposed. Baseball caps also do nothing to protect your neck. Instead, put on a wide-brimmed hat whenever you’re out working in your garden or doing yard work. This style will fully protect the front, back, and top of your head.


Finally, while they don’t protect your skin, you do want to wear a pair of sunglasses when you’re in direct heat, especially if you don’t have a good hat. They will protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them safe from damage.


Put on Sunscreen


In addition to covering as much of your skin as you can, always put on sunscreen if you’re going to be outside for any considerable length of time. You will want to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. This level of SPF will block a good number of both UVA and UVB rays. The first type of ray is what causes your skin to prematurely age, resulting in age spots and wrinkles. UVB rays, on the other hand, are what cause sunburns and can lead to cancer.


applying sunscreen to arm to prevent a sunburn


You need to block both UVA and UVB rays. Using a product with an SPF of 30 is great for preventing a sunburn because it blocks 97 percent of UVB rays. It’s impossible to block out 100 percent of these rays, and sunscreens with higher SPFs don’t actually block out much more than 97 percent.


Wearing a daily moisturizer with SPF is often enough for days when you’re only outdoors when going to or from your vehicle, getting your mail and other routine activities. If you’re going to be outside gardening, apply sunscreen right before you go out and reapply every couple of hours. If you’re swimming and have more skin exposed, make certain you use sunscreen that is water-resistant and reapply often.


Look for Shade


While many people don’t enjoy being outdoors during an excessive heatwave, you might. If that’s the case, make certain you hang out under some shade. Pick a spot under a good tree, put up a beach umbrella, or sit outdoors under a porch or up near the side of your home. It’s possible to enjoy being outside without being in the direct sun.


Know How to Treat a Sunburn


If you do get sunburnt, it’s important to know how to treat it. You may want to start picking and peeling a sunburn to get the flaky dead skin off, but this is actually not a good idea. According to medical experts, peeling can expose new skin while it’s still vulnerable. It can also cause additional damage. While it may be tempting to pick at your peeling skin or use an exfoliating agent to get the unattractive dead skin off, you should avoid giving in to this temptation.


Instead of picking at your sunburnt skin, you need to treat it properly so that the new skin is protected and heals correctly. As soon as you notice that you have a sunburn, you want to do your best to stay out of the sun for at least a week. If you have to be outdoors, cover the sunburnt area.


treating a sunburn by applying aloe vera to the thigh


Apply a moisturizing agent regularly. Sunburns dry out your body, so moisturizing your skin is an important part of the healing process. It also helps to soothe the pain. However, you do want to make sure the moisturizing products you’re using are not oil- or petroleum-based. These products can actually trap heat in the skin, causing additional damage. If you’re looking for a natural moisturizer, look for aloe vera products. You can even break off pieces of an aloe vera plant and rub the soothing contents on your sunburn.


If the sunburn is moderate to severe, it’s likely going to cause you pain. This is especially true when anything comes in contact with the sunburnt area. To relieve this discomfort, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers. You should also take a cold shower or cold bath. Be careful when drying off after you bathe. Pat your skin dry instead of vigorously rubbing a towel across the sunburnt area to avoid damaging the new skin.


Note that if you have a second-degree sunburn, you may need to seek medical attention. This deeper sunburn results in blisters. Let those blisters heal on their own before you treat them, and be very gentle with the burnt skin. If you start feeling chills, have a fever, or have a very large area of blisters, seek medical attention as soon as you can.


Don’t Let Clouds Fool You


Cloudy days may seem like a break from the sun. These days are typically cooler, and it may seem like there’s not as much excessive heat affecting your skin. However, just because the sunlight isn’t bright and blinding doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburnt. You can. Many people who go out of their way to protect their skin during sunny days don’t do anything on the cloudy and overcast ones. They then end up getting sunburnt! Remember that you don’t have to be in direct sunlight to get a sunburn. Take the same types of precautions during cloudy days as you do on sunny ones, even if the temperature is a bit lower. To get a better idea of the skin protection you’ll need on a cloudy day, pay attention to the UV index on a weather report.


Drink Plenty of Water


It should go without saying that you do need to drink a good amount of water during the summer. But drinking water does more than just keep you from suffering from dehydration. It also keeps you from having dry skin. Hydrated skin is more elastic, which means it looks healthier and younger.


child drinking a glass of water


You’ll want to drink the appropriate amount of water you should drink for your body type. While following the eight glasses a day rule is one easy way of ensuring you are drinking a lot of water, you can more precisely determine how much water you need. Calculate two-thirds of your weight, then drink that many ounces of water. Then add an extra 12 ounces of water per every half-hour of strenuous activity or exercise.


Take Extra Vitamin E


Vitamin E protects your skin from damage and helps it maintain its young, healthy look. There have even been studies that suggest applying vitamin E topically can help reduce damage caused by the sun’s UV rays. Just taking a supplement with vitamin E will help your skin look better and remain healthy. You don’t necessarily need a stand-alone vitamin E cream, either. Some moisturizers and even sunscreens contain vitamin E.


With these tips, you’ll be able to protect your skin and still take care of anything you have to do outdoors. Just remember to take some precautions before stepping outside and treat any sunburn you get correctly.