I highly advise you to apply the below tested, 6 tips on how to protect your body from sunburn. Let me start off by declaring that YES, African skin, like all other skin types is at risk of getting sunburns. Therefore, ignore all the misguided ‘FAKE NEWS” that Africans do not get sunburns, you are at risk. However, just to provide proof that African skin does get sunburns, let me share images of instances that I listened to this “Myth”, went out without any form of protection and my skin paid the ultimate price.
Therefore, let me share simple tips that I recommend all to follow, especially when one is outdoors for longer periods of time more so during the hot season. I would not want you to find yourself walking on the streets with your skin actually peeling and people staring at you wondering what contagious disease you may be having. Yes, this happened to me during the days my skin took to peel.
Hats come in various forms, shapes and sizes and I highly recommend you to always carry one when travelling. Kindly, I know aesthetics tend to influence purchase but for an outdoor traveller, functionality overrides aesthetics. However, if you find one that fits into both functionality and aesthetics, get it. When I am galavanting the coastal areas and engaging in various water sports, or the great Northern Kenya Region that is quite hot, I never leave my hats behind. In these areas, I would recommend wide rimmed hats that not only protect the head, but also, most if not all of the face. Costs for these are relative with one of my favourite ones being the eco-friendly hats made from mnazi leaves, that I got in both Mombasa and Watamu.
For some reason, people perceive shawls to be for use only during the cold season. Let me assure you, they are very efficient and provide great protection during the hot, sunny season. One is advised to limit the amount of skin left exposed during high temperatures, especially around noon time and there about. If like me, vests and short sleeves are your go-to items while travelling, I recommend having a shawl that you can wrap lightly over your shoulders to protect your arms and upper body area. It also acts as a multipurpose item that can be converted to provide a shade to ones head, protects head from dust as well as offering religious covering that is required in some places.
3) Eye wear
Eye wear varies from prescription eye glasses to aesthetic eyewear. If you own eye glasses and tend to be in hot regions, it is recommended that your optician prescribe for you spectacles that have both photochromic and anti glare lenses. Second option would be to purchase authentic sunglasses that have Ultra Violet (UV) protection that protects ones eyes from exposure of the suns ultra violet rays. I accept, I have a few sunglasses that do not have authentic UV lenses, but, I am currently seeking to replace all of them with authentic ones. This is especially after learning that the fake ones may promote deterioration of ones eye-sight. I am currently sourcing for outlets that have fashionable looking authentic sunglasses, that will not expose me to risk of a heart attack, if they break or get lost due to cost. I will keep you posted on my research.
4) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
When you are out travelling and more so in sunny areas, ensure you keep your body hydrated as much as possible. I thus recommend you drink as much water as possible, partake cool/cold drinks as much as possible as this not only prevents dehydration which is detrimental to ones health but, would affect the skin. It is also recommended to keep engaged in activities that will keep the body cool like swimming, snorkeling and others which are both fun and helpful activities in reducing risk to sunburn.
5)Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
Traditionally, as I have come to learn, our ancestors also did recognize that the sun greatly affected their skin. They therefore applied various traditional methods of skin protection what we now call sunscreen, that was in the form of non-processed animal fat being smeared on ones body. This still applies to date in some areas and seems to work with others using modern petroleum jelly recommended for use on cow teats during milking for protection. I however highly recommend using certified sunscreen that has the recommended Sun protection factor (SPF) for different weathers and skin types and is waterproof. I will soon share my recommended favourite brand, which I finally settled on after several brushes with sunburn as well as reaction to other products.
The lips also need great care while one is travelling as they are prone to sunburns, chapping and peeling if exposed to harsh conditions. I recommend always travelling with lip care that provides great moisture as well as having SPF. Lip Care includes lipgloss, lipstick, chapstick, petroleum jelly among others. Currently, there are many products in the market and I will be sharing my go to brand after sampling several.
The sun is a double edged sword that provides many benefits like warmth and light, but, can also damage the skin via sunburn and in worst cases, skin cancer. Therefore, feel free to incorporate the above 6 tips even in your day to day lives, to maximize your skin protection. Thereafter, go out and enjoy the sun.