Let’s be real; we all hate getting our skin burned. Many of us want that perfect, golden skin, but often end up with red shoulders and a peeling nose. It seems that it doesn't matter what time we go out in the sun or how much sunscreen we use, we always lose against the powerful tropical sun. This can get pretty frustrating, especially when we all want to be happy and comfortable during our visits to places like Manuel Antonio or Bocas del Toro.
Though everyone has different skin types, and some tend to be more sensitive than others, you might want to take some things into consideration the next time you hit the beach.
We have been warned about the infamous sun peak hours. This peak, in Costa Rica especially, is from 10am till 2pm. Doctors suggest avoiding the direct sun during this time. If you do happen to be outside at this time, it’s best to look for shade and use plenty of sunscreen.
If you do go out during the early morning or after 2pm and you are still getting sunburned, consider this: your skin has a certain amount of sun it can take. There is only a certain amount of melanin our body produces. Once it reaches its peak, spending more time outside will be harmful and won’t give you any tanning results. You’ll just end up with a burns.
For fair skin, it can usually only handle up to three hours. Give it small amounts of sun every day, instead of trying to get the perfect tan in one sitting.
Just applying sunscreen in the morning isn’t enough. We need to understand how and why we should apply sunscreen to get the best results. Apply your sunscreen 15 minutes before being exposed to the sun. This will give the skin enough time to absorb and set the sunscreen, making it more effective once you step out into the beach.
Applying sunscreen once isn’t enough, either. You need to reapply every 2-3 hours. Reapply it even more often if you are sweating or swimming. Set an alarm on your smartphone so you don’t forget.
Even if it is a cloudy day, you still need to wear your sunscreen! About 65% of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays reach the surface on a cloudy day.
And last, but not least, larger numbers don’t mean more protection. Use a 35 to 45 SPF for your face and 45 to 55 for your skin. This is enough for most skin types. Consult with your doctor if you have very sensitive skin or don’t see results with generic sunscreens.
Do you want to improve your tan? Don’t bother buying tanning creams, which have been proven ineffective to produce more melanin by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Try to eat more skin friendly food!
There are certain foods that increase lycopene, your body’s own natural SPF. Foods like tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, and other red and orange fruits can boost your protection up to 30% and are also great antioxidants.
Caffeine also helps your lycopene levels rise. Dark chocolate and coffee are a perfect treat before going to the beach. Just remember to carry some fresh red fruit with you and drink plenty of water.
There won’t always be the perfect palm tree waiting for you on your dream Costa Rican beach. Make sure to carry an umbrella or wide-brimmed hat with you at all times. If you don’t have any of these with you, tie a beach blanket to two trees and create your own tent! The public beach at Manuel Antonio does have umbrellas and chairs to rent.
Make sure small children and the elderly spend more than 65% of their time covered up, since their skin is the most sensitive. It’s better to be protected and healthy, than burned and wrinkly! Always remember that a dark tan might seem nice in the moment, but no one wants the negative effects later in life!
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