Some beach somewhere, there’s a big umbrella casting shade over an empty chair. Palm trees are growing, warm breezes blowing. I picture myself there, some beach somewhere. (Unknown)
I’m glad that the chair’s in the shade! But how about a hat too, and you still need sun cream even in the shade, and even on Ko Samui. Did you know that 1% of our wrinkles are due to ageing: 99% are from how we live our life – and that includes too much sun. Our skin is damaged by both UVA and UVB rays: both can cause skin damage and that means at the very least, wrinkles and dryness. UVB is the main culprit for sunburn, but UVA does its stuff quietly: this is the one that does the most damage to your skin.
Do you know what the SPF number on your sunscreen actually means? The higher the number, the more protection and the longer you can stay in the sun. You must know your skin type, and how long it takes until you burn. Once you know that, then your ’burn time’ x the SPF No of your cream = the maximum time you can stay in the sun safely.
If you have a fair skin, then you need higher protection than someone with a dark complexion. Now you can find sunscreens up to SPF 70, but that doesn’t give you carte blanche (no joke intended) to slap it on and bake for hours. As with most things, little and often is better than one huge dollop.
We’ve thought for years that a good tan looks wonderfully healthy and attractive, but now that we know just what the sun can do to our skins, thank goodness the times they are a-changing, and the look now is tending towards the pale and cool. Which doesn’t help those of us with built-in freckles, age spots and other blemishes! Not all of us have a beautiful smooth alabaster complexion, and, frankly, not all of us would be totally happy with that, especially after a couple of weeks on Ko Samui: a little smattering of freckles on honey-coloured skin is still a good way to say ‘Hey! I had a great holiday!’
Here’s a few of the well-known Do’s and Don’ts, just as a reminder: we want your Ko Samui holiday to be one of the best you’ve ever had, and if your skin hurts, you have a headache or a fever, then you are not going to be able to enjoy yourself to the utmost:
• Don’t sunbathe in full sun between 11 am and 3 pm
• Don’t ignore the sunscreen if you are swimming in the sea or your private pool, or are spending the day on a boat. You will need it more as the sun will be reflecting off the sea, and there may be a strong breeze to increase the drying effect
• Don’t try to speed up your tanning by using anything other than a proper sunscreen
• Don’t drink strong alcohol – this will dehydrate you. But some say that a beer’s OK! Save it for those sundowners in your Ko Samui villa sala …
• Don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours
• Don’t forget your sunglasses to protect your eyes
• Don’t forget that your lips will burn faster than the rest of you.
• Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside
• Do make sure you use the right SPF factor sunscreen for your skin type
• Do use proper sunscreens that you’ve used before – not one you’ve made, put together in your kitchen earlier …
• Drink plenty of water: both sun and wind will dehydrate you
• Make sure the kids are well covered up with sun protection tee-shirts, hats and proper children’s sunscreen.
If this if your first holiday in the sun this year, then take it easy too: just a couple of hours out there for the first few days should break you and your skin in to the idea of a daily dose of those rays. Children should be out there for less time.
If you do get a sunburn –
• Don’t sunbathe any more that day! Your mild sunburn may turn to 2nd degree burns, and require medical attention
• Have a cool shower or bath
• Gently rub in some aloe vera cream or gel, or the juice from a fresh leaf. It might be an idea to get some aloe vera gel or cream before you go on holiday, just in case
• Moisturise with a good moisturiser, like a cocoa butter cream
• If necessary, take some pain relief.
If you don’t have any cooling aloe vera, then here are some household remedies you might want to try to cool your skin if there is nothing else to hand:
• mash up some tomatoes, add them to crushed ice, place on the burnt skin
• slices of cucumber or apple will have a similar cooling effect
• ditto plain yoghurt, vinegar, tomato ketchup.
If the symptoms are far more severe and include fever, headache, and confusion, then the sufferer may have sunstroke. This happens when the body has become overheated, and cannot reduce its temperature quickly enough by sweating. You must lower the person’s body heat immediately by giving cold water to drink, and a cool soak in the bath. Don’t wrap the person in cold, wet towels or other cloths as this traps the heat in. If you are at all worried, then please seek medical help.