Road to Carnival: Is your skin ready for the sun on carnival day?
The month of July is when we have the most intense sun and highest ultraviolet rays. The higher the level of radiation the greater the potential for damage to the skin. With the Carnival in Jamaica 2022 road march a few days away, many are zooming in on their bodies, but whether toned or not, the question you should be asking yourself is, 'is my skin ready for the sun?'
According to Dr Keren-Marie St Clair, a medical aesthetician physician, the skin is often taken for granted – though it is the largest organ of the human body that is responsible for protecting the inner organs – as a protective barrier.
Aside from toning our muscles and eating healthy in preparation to masquerade in the streets, and specifically in the hot summer sun, “it is important to have a good skincare routine that involves cleansing and moisturising daily”.
“Prior to even being in the sun for a long period, both men and women must narrow down or normalise a skincare routine because that will contribute to the reactions your skin will have to the sun and other external factors,” Dr St Clair explained.
The skin's appearance is the first line of evidence of how much stress we place on our bodies, the level of sun exposure a person receives, and unhealthy practices. Considering carnival day, when lots of people will be wearing costumes that do not leave much to the imagination, she said, “Don't forget your sunscreen.”
“But before I touch on the fine details of sunscreen, which is an integral part of having a proper skincare routine, let's focus on getting ready for the road, on carnival day,” she said.
A cleanser with moisturising properties and a moisturiser are the basic products a person needs to use daily. Persons must stay away from deep scrubbing, exfoliations, or rubbing of the skin as it gets closer to the day. Prepping for the road always involves some type of hair removal practice and people like to exfoliate as a means to reduce unsightly razor bumps. However, Dr St Clair shared that exfoliation is usually better two weeks prior, but if needs be, not less than five or four days before the day, especially if you plan to do any type of hair removal such as waxing or shaving. She also recommends that the use of harsh skincare products with acids in them be avoided. “If you scrub the skin, or use harsh products on the days leading up to road march, the skin is more prone to irritation and sunburn [so] to prep the skin, stop using those harsh products from now.”
Dr St Clair said that cool and cold showers are better, especially for persons who already present skin irritations such as keratosis pilaris or have a history of sunburn.
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Always remember to moisturise the skin and drink water. Sunscreen is important on this day and for women, it can be applied before make-up. One of the things that make-up artists will say is that the state of a person's skin also determines how well the make-up can be applied and how it lasts. That doesn't mean how free of spots or bumps one's skin is, but how healthy the pores are and the level of moisturisation. “There are some moisturisers that have a high sun protection factor (SPF), and this just suggests the type of or amount of coverage your skin will get. I recommend using one that says SPF 30 or more because once it is less than 30, it drops to less than 50 per cent coverage,” Dr St Clair explained.
In addition to a moisturiser, sunscreen must be implemented for more protection. Spray sunscreen is just as effective as lotions but ensure on the label it says broad-spectrum, “because it protects you from UV-A and UV-B types of radiation from the sun”.
“Sunscreen is underrated because of a lack of knowledge. Many people do not think they need it. I've had patients say they only use it when they go to the beach for a long time or that it's for persons of lighter skin, but it doesn't matter the race, ethnicity, or age.”
She added, “Reapplication of the sunscreen on the day is important, do that at least every two hours that you plan to spend on the road. Of course, when you get a sunburn, you get darker but it's more than the burning of the skin. There are also changes that happen to the skin on a cellular level.”
Sunlight, UV-radiation breaks down collagen which gives the skin elasticity, firmness, and smoothness and keeps you looking young, fresh, and healthy. The more time you spend in the sun the more broken down over time. There are featherweight spritz sunscreens that can be used under or over make-up that provide broad-spectrum protection.
AFTER ROAD MARCH
Don't just focus on washing off the sweat or removing the dirt and make-up. “Focus on replenishing after road march.” After being in the sun all day, it is super important to cleanse the skin with gentle use of moisturising cleansers because these keep the skin hydrated. Continue to use sunscreen in the days whether or not you plan on being in the sun. When the skin is weakened, it becomes vulnerable to external damage. This can display as dryness, redness, dullness, and increased sensitivity as well as irritations. “You don't need to bombard the skin with serums unless necessary. If there are any irritations, I will always suggest getting advice from a medical aesthetician physician or your dermatologist,” Dr St Clair said.
So, to our men and women bacchanalists, it all boils down to a proper skincare routine, moisturising your skin, and if you don't have one as yet, go grab a sunscreen with SPF 30 and above for maximum protection against the sun's harmful rays.