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Stay hydrated, use sunscreen: Ways to protect your skin in the heat

With temperatures and heat indexes rising, it is important to take good care of your skin.

But there’s no need to stay inside and watch the ocean waves lap against the shore from afar. Summer is that time of the year to flaunt that beach body, while keeping your skin protected and hydrated.

Here are seven tips on protecting your skin this summer.

1. Use sunblock with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher.

Sunblock users must apply sunblock every day, according to dermatologist Dr. Ruth Bueno Medel. “Applying the sunblock 20 minutes before sun exposure is a MUST to minimize wrinkles and lessen the incidence of skin cancer,” she says.

Medel also recommends using sunblock over sunscreen. Sunblock helps in deflecting the harmful UV rays of the sun. Sunscreen, on the other hand, works by absorbing UV rays.

Go here for information on UV rays, SPF, and what the SPF numbers mean.

2. Re-apply sunscreen every two hours.

For those who prefer using sunscreen, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends re-applying it every two hours.

“Reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle,” it says.

“Swimmers need to use a waterproof sunscreen, but even waterproof sunscreens will have lesser effects because of sea/pool water,” Medel says.

Whether you're at the beach or in the pool, your exposure to UV rays will be more intense, because of the deflection of the sun’s rays by sand and water.

3. Use other forms of sun protection.

Sun block or sunscreen can only do so much to combat the sun’s harmful rays. However, sun protection comes in many different forms.

Dermatologist Dr. Winlove Mojica says that the easiest way to protect your skin is to avoid sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. “This is when the energy from the sun’s UV rays is at its highest,” he says.

According to the AAD, the sun’s rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you, seek shade.

“Another way to minimize exposure from UV rays is to wear hats and long- sleeved shirts. However, the latter may be uncomfortable in tropical countries,” Mojica notes.

4. Stay hydrated; water is the best

Constant exposure to the sun will dehydrate your skin. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.

Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Ciriaco-Tan says that while eight to 10 glasses is the standard amount of water to drink in a day, on a hot day you can drink more depending on your state of hydration. 

"[Y]ou can go on drinking more glasses if you feel thirsty and dehydrated," she says. "[One's] state of hydration depends on one's activity, environment, state of health, etc. We have a built-in system to know if we are dehydrated. Dry mouth, dry skin, dry eyes... Overall heat/temperature rises when we are not fully hydrated. That's why heat strokes happen."

INFOGRAPHIC: Protect yourself from heat stroke

Ciriaco-Tan adds that water is the best liquid to hydrate yourself with. "Juices , soda and alcohol contain more electrolytes/ sugar/ etc., which can cause [a] tilt in the balance of hydration [so] that a person may need more fluids in the end," she says.

5. Eat healthy!

The Philippine Dermatological Society recommends eating foods rich in antioxidants and proteins.

A few examples of these would be fish and eggs, because they stimulate collagen growth. According to the PDS, collagen maintains the elasticity of the skin while preventing wrinkles.

6. Avoid applying too much heat to your hair

Adding too much heat to your hair will reduce moisture, and can permanently damage your hair.

Worry not! You can still achieve beach-perfect hair without using flat irons or blowers! Check out Ale Martin’s YouTube video on how to achieve natural, wavy hair.

7. Visit a licensed dermatologist.

Make sure that your skin doctor is a board-certified dermatologist. For the complete list of board-certified dermatologists in the Philippines, visit the PDS website.

The PDS is the only specialty society in dermatology recognized by the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) and the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP). — BM, GMA News