Summer Skin Care for Seniors

With warmer weather comes more opportunities to bask in the sun. Remember, though, that it’s important to protect your skin while soaking up that vitamin D. This is especially true for older adults. Skin care becomes even more important for seniors, as age brings increased risk of age spots and wrinkles, thinning skin, and skin cancer. Luckily, protecting your skin from the sun’s rays can be easy. 

caucasian hand applying cream on fingertips of another hand
Apply a layer of fragrance-free sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outside.

Before going outside

The best offense is a good defense! Get ahead of sun damage by applying a layer of fragrance-free sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outside. This allows enough time to ensure that the sunscreen is absorbed, offering optimal protection. Don’t forget your lips – invest in a lip balm of SPF 15 or greater. 

Don’t forget to also protect your head and your body. You might consider purchasing a sunhat or lightweight UV protective shirt if you plan on spending long hours outside. 

During peak UV hours

If you are outside during the part  of the day when the sun is strongest – between 10am and 4pm – you should take periodic breaks from the sun. Finding a shady place to cool off or stepping inside for a while will give your skin a chance to recover from UV exposure. 

three clear bottles of water.

Staying hydrated during the day is important year-round, but even more so during the hottest days of the year. Make sure you are drinking enough water while outside. Well-hydrated skin recovers more easily from UV exposure, burns, scrapes, and other maladies. 


After the sun

a pile of oatmeal.
An oatmeal bath in warm water is a good way to relieve dry, itchy skin.

If you notice your skin feeling extra dry, tight, or like it might be in the beginning stages of a burn, then you need to act quickly. Applying products with healing aloe vera and moisturizing shea butter can speed up the healing process and offer some relief. Taking a short bath with warm (not hot!) water and oatmeal is another way to relieve dry, itchy skin. To make an oatmeal bath, simply blend 1 cup of oatmeal into a fine powder and add it to bathwater. 

Stay informed

Your doctor can be an excellent resource for skincare. Many common medications cause a greater sensitivity to the sun, so be sure to check with your doctor about any and all potential side effects. Your primary care practitioner should be providing skin checks at your annual wellness visit, but experts recommend self-checks a few times a year. Before or after your shower, assess your skin and any moles you may have, checking for changes in size, shape, or color. 

By following these skin care tips, you can have a safe and healthy summer soaking up the sun!

Save our reefs! Make the switch to reef-safe sunscreen.

Coral reefs are home to 25% of the ocean’s marine life. These fragile ecosystems are actually living creatures and are being irreparably damaged at an alarming rate. Over 35% of the world’s reefs have died; in high-traffic places, like the caribbean, that number is a staggering 80%. This puts millions of aquatic creatures at risk! Scientists point out that it will take hundreds of years to regrow some of this coral, but there are small changes we can make to help protect them right now. One of those changes is as simple as replacing your bottle of sunscreen.

What’s happening?overview of coral reefs in water, with one bunch shaped like a heart.

There are many things, such as warming ocean waters, extreme weather events, and disease, that can impact the health of coral reefs.  Water pollution, especially from the chemicals found in sunscreen, plays a large part in the destruction of coral.  Every year 14,000 tons of sunscreen containing harmful chemicals like oxybenzone is absorbed by the reef systems. While these chemicals are considered safe for humans, even miniscule amounts rapidly bleach coral and slow new growth. One study found that a single drop in 4.3 MILLION gallons of water (think 6 Olympic-sized pools) is enough to kill coral. 

Thankfully, environmental scientists and lawmakers are teaming up to save these “rainforests of the sea,” as they are sometimes described. In 2018, Hawai’i passed a bill banning the sale of sunscreen containing harmful chemicals. Shortly after, Palau followed suit. If more states take action to protect the reef, there’s a chance we can slow down the damage, and even reverse it. 

How you can helpsunscreen tube on sand

  • Check the label: look for a “reef-safe” sticker on your sunscreen. Choose mineral-based sunblocks using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both reef-friendly options. 
  • Check the list: The Environmental Working Group rates sun protection products on their environmental impact. Look at the list before completing your summer shopping. 
  • Skip the spray: Aerosol spray bottles are not as effective as lotion sunscreens, and experts estimate that as much as 70% of aerosol sunscreen winds up on the sand instead of on your body! When a harmful sunscreen lands on the sand, it is easily washed into the ocean. Protect yourself and the reef by switching to a mineral-based lotion sunscreen. 

It’s not too late to save these international treasures! Coral reefs are a beautiful sight to behold, and are critical parts of our marine ecosystem. Without them, millions of aquatic creatures are out of a home. By making small changes, we can all do our part to help protect these delicate reefs. 

Winter’s Finally Over! Sun’s Out, Sunscreens Out!

This year, the CDC estimates over 7,000 deaths will occur because of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. A lot of people only apply sunscreen when going to the beach or pool. That is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make. Sure you think to yourself you’re going to be exposed to the sun the most in those places. Unfortunately, you get just as much damage from UV rays anytime. UV rays pass through window glass, and reflect off the water, and even off the snow. The more exposure to sun you get, then the more damage you are causing your skin. Needless to say, the rays are strong. It is important to protect your skin every day. But now that the winter is coming to an end, and the sun will be its hottest, be sure to take extra measures to protect your skin. The more exposure it gets without protection, the more likely to burn your skin, causing a higher risk for skin cancer.

It is important to protect your skin everyday with sunscreen. It is especially important when in the sun.
It is important to protect your skin everyday with sunscreen. It is especially important when in the sun to avoid skin cancer.

What Kind Of Sunscreen To Use?

There are various sunscreens flooding the market claiming to protect your skin. A lot of these sunscreens only block UVB rays and not UVA rays. Look for sunscreens that have avobenzone or oxybenzone as an ingredient. Those two ingredients will protect your skin from UVA rays. Choose SPF 15 or higher, but know that the lower the SPF, then the more frequent you must re-apply. Try to stick to SPF 30 or 45. If you are swimming or sweating a lot, then it is best to reapply sunscreen every hour.

Remember Sunscreen, Even If It’s Cloudy!

As stated before, the sun’s rays reflect off water and snow, and get you! Clouds do not stand a chance against the rays either. UV rays can be just as harmful when the clouds provide shade. Also, don’t forget to protect your lips! Use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen of at least SPF 30. They need protection too.

Eat Your Way To Better Skin

Foods aid in better skin health. Lycopene found in tomatoes absorb UVA and UVB rays.
Foods aid in better skin health. Lycopene found in tomatoes absorb UVA and UVB rays, while carrots help protect the skin with vitamin A.

There are many foods to eat that help protect your skin. Blueberries and cauliflower are abundant in antioxidants that protect your skin against damage from sun exposure. Lycopene, which is found in watermelon and tomatoes, absorbs UVA and UVB radiation. Carrots, spinach, and kale all contain beta carotene, which provides us with the vitamin A our skin needs for natural skin protection. While just eating these foods will protect your skin, keep in mind it’s not enough and that you need to also apply sunscreen. Consider these foods an additive to protecting you alongside your sunscreen. Like a sidekick!

The older you become, the more aware you become of skin care. Thinking back to all the times we would put baby oil on just to tan, talk about regret! While having a sun-kissed look during the summer is nice, remember you are causing more harm than good to your skin. Protect your skin as much as you can. Not only will you avoid cancer, but you will help your skin look more beautiful and youthful over the years. Less sun exposure/burn means fewer wrinkles!