We view pale skin with vague suspicion. A milky white complexion might be de rigeur in certain circles but down in the West Country, it’s all kinds of wrong. I mean, can you imagine Ross Poldark without that tan? He just wouldn’t cut the mustard. Not surprisingly, this tanning fascism presents something of a conundrum in my professional life, where every dermatologist I meet drums home the drastic ageing effects of the sun.
How on earth can I be a dedicated beach bum when I know I’ll end up looking like an old prune? Thankfully, there are ways to tan well and safely. Experts all agree that soaking up a few rays is crucial for good health, as it provides essential vitamin D. What’s more, you can strengthen your skin against UV damage with a bit of dedicated pre-summer prepping for summer skin care routine.
Every spring, I start wolfing down antioxidant-rich foods that contain a natural SPF factor. These include deep purple berries such as blackcurrants, blueberries and blackberries, fruits such as black grapes and figs, and orange and dark green vegetables such as peppers, squash, kale and spinach. “The plant pigments in these foods gravitate to the skin,” explains nutritionist Dr Sam Christie from Nature’s Best.
“They help the skin cope with UV light by suppressing the damaging effects of sunlight, neutralizing free radicals and reducing inflammation.” Other foods include cocoa and green and black tea, which are rich in anti-ageing polyphenols; tomatoes, papaya and watermelon, which are packed full of a red carotenoid called lycopene that protects skin against sunburn and skin cancer; and finally pomegranate, which strengthens the skin’s upper layers.
TREAT YOUR BODY
Of course, to keep your natural SPF in full combat mode you’d have to eat an awful lot of the stuff, so I usually supplement with something like Colladeen Visage (Ads) or Imedeen(Ads) Tan Optimizer both of which contain high levels of plant nutrients to keep your skin in tip-top condition.
I also drink gallons of water to boost skin’s natural moisture factor which protects against environmental damage and increase my intake of omega 3 fatty acids found in foods such as sardines, mackerel, flax and chia seeds (or supplement with Seven Seas Perfect 7, Ads) to protect against sunburn and melanoma. Topically, I use a decent body scrub such as Ole Henriksen’s Rub n’ Buff Salt Scrub (Ads) or G Baldwin’s Citrus Bath Salts (ads) two or three times a week followed by lashings of a decent moisturizer such as Murad’s brilliant new Body Firming Cream (Ads). Start this regime now and you’ll be boasting a perfectly healthy tan this summer!