If there is one silver lining in this current pandemic, it is that people are getting outside now more than ever to exercise! With restrictions at the gyms, many of us are hitting the outdoors to get our exercise. In the process of maintaining our physical health, we tend to forget to take care of the largest organ of the human body – our skin.
When exercising outdoors, the combination of extended sun exposure and improper care can lead to unintended consequences such as skin pigmentation and premature ageing of the skin. As the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays damage our skin significantly over time, it is important to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days.
Eight Tips on Staying Protected Under Sun Exposure
- Choose a sunscreen with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 or higher.
- Make sure it is water resistant to withstand sweat.
- Use a lip balm with a minimum of SPF 30.
- Apply at least half a teaspoon of sunscreen to your entire face.
- Apply at least 30 minutes before going outdoors.
- When participating in extensive outdoor activities, reapply sunscreen to your entire body every two hours.
- Accessorise with a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears.
- Wear sunglasses with lenses that have 99 per cent to 100 per cent UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and face.
Apart from taking care of the parts of our body that are seen, the parts left unseen are often neglected. Most of us overlook scalp protection – an extension of our face. The scalp is anatomically similar to the rest of our skin albeit with thicker density and oil glands.
Within the scalp, each strand of hair grows from an individual follicle. Each follicle secretes sebum produced by the sebaceous glands, conditioning the hair and scalp. The amount of sebum produced varies in individuals, with some experiencing more or less than others.
The lack of care can lead to conditions that demand our attention: hair loss, irritation, itchiness and dryness. In order to prevent these potential pesky problems, we need to create a healthy environment for our scalp and hair to flourish.
Six Ways to Get a Healthy Scalp
1. Use gentle, sulfate-free hair products
Sulfate removes healthy oils and dead skin cells which makes the scalp excessively dry and prone to irritation.
2. Shampoo gently
Instead of scrubbing, massage the scalp to increase circulation and reduce abrasion.
3. Wash less frequently
Shampooing too often strips the natural oils away, and our scalp might produce more oils to keep it hydrated, resulting in oily-looking hair. It is not recommended to wash your hair more than once a day.
4. Eat more antioxidants
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants. With the lack of it, oxidative stress occurs when the number of damaging free radicals in the body overwhelms the number of beneficial antioxidants. Other than resulting in potential health conditions, it is also believed to affect scalp health and hair loss.
5. Avoid all kinds of heat-styling tools
High heat damages the scalp and quality of hair significantly.
6. Use conditioner only from the ends to mid-length of hair
Conditioners contain a high moisturising quality – using it on your scalp might create excessive oils, and using it on fine hair might make it look limp.
In Singapore, we are lucky to enjoy sunshine all year round. However, as the saying goes – you can have too much of a good thing. Long term exposure to the sun rays can have unfortunate health effects if we do not pay attention to our skin health. Having a proper skincare routine is all-rounded, including scalp care.
(Source: Raffles Health)