When it comes to holidays those happy, carefree days often mean that normal routines, diets and worries go out of the window. That often includes eating well and drinking moderately, and your skincare regime can fall by the wayside too. Time spent in a sunshine paradise can be brutal for your skin. While you may want to return glowing you could come back with skin which could make you feel as though you would rather that you hadn’t jetted off at all.
Dermatologist Dr Daniel Glass, from The Dermatology Clinic London on Harley Street, tells us why your holiday could be wreck your skin and how to make sure it stays in tip-top condition.
The biggest threat to your skin both on holiday and generally in life are UV rays. It’s this form of light which is going to prematurely age you and which will leave your skin looking leathery and thick rather than youthful and glowing. While we know we need to slap on the sunscreen, how many of us also want to achieve a deeper tan so decide ‘after 3pm it’s fine not to bother’ or only apply suncream once in the morning and don’t bother again all day? And have you checked your suncream has both UVA and UVB protection as both are needed. “UVB is more potent than UVA in terms of causing redness or sunburn. The effects of UVA rays are felt more substantially in the long term, as these long wave rays penetrate deeper into the skin and repeated exposure can cause premature ageing, leading to fine lines and wrinkles,” explains Daniel. “The SPF number you can find on most sun creams refers to the UVB protection and it is always best to use factor 50. In the UK, there is often a star rating that refers to the amount of UVA protection a product provides, with five-star protection being the best for protecting the skin against premature aging.” And remember clothing is also important for protecting your skin.
When you are at home you don’t use your body lotion on your face – so why should the sun cream you use on your face while you are away be the same as the suncream you apply all over? “When it comes to your face it is important to invest in a non- comedogenic sun creams which suits your skin type, just like you would for any other skin product, otherwise the sun may contribute to clogged pores, which in turn may exacerbate acne,” says Daniel.
You also need to think about shielding your face from the sun in the first place. If you want to look younger for longer make sure you invest in a selection of hats to wear in the sun.
For many people slowing down and stopping on holiday can trigger a cold or general feeling of being unwell. While this is usually stress related you may find whenever you go away you end up with a cold sore. “It’s very common for people to develop cold sores when on a sunny holiday, as the sun affects your immune system and allows the Herpes Simplex virus to manifest,” explains Daniel. If this has happened to you in the past be prepared with and appropriate antiviral like topical acyclovir.
Prickly heat, technically known as Polymorphic Light Eruption or PLE is an itchy rash which can flare up when you are away and ruin a holiday as well as upset your skin as it feels uncomfortable and looks painful too. “Seventy five percent of the time, prickly heat affects adult females aged 20–40,” says Daniel. “PLE is particularly common in individuals who live in areas where sun exposure is uncommon, like northern Europe, who then expose themselves to the sun shine, as on a Mediterranean holiday.”
When you get a flare up the best thing to do is avoid the sun although in some cases steroids can be used to treat it. But if you know it’s an ongoing problem for you and you want to avoid it then a programme of desensitization in the Spring with the help of a dermatologist can help.
Did you want to come home looking relaxed and glowing, but actually returned spotty and with uneven skin? That could well be because your pre-holiday bikini diet was a lot healthier than what you chose while you were away! Fried foods, drinking more alcohol and snacking on junk rather than healthier options wreck our skin as well as our prepped-for-holiday figures. “Over-indulgence of high fat and sugary foods whilst on holiday can grease production in the skin, as well as inflammation, which can in turn lead to acne,” explains Daniel. “Healthy eating should not only be part of your holiday preparation, it is also important to continue with this, if you can, whilst you are away to prevent undoing any of your good work, your skin and body will thank you!”
While taking a cooling dip or getting some exercise in the pool is a cherished part of a holiday, it can also play havoc with our skin. “The salt water and chlorine can be extremely drying for skin,” says Daniel. “Ensure that you rinse off after a swim and re-hydrate your skin at the end of the day with a nourishing after-sun moisturiser after a bath or shower, such as Oilatum cream or Aveeno cream.”