How to look after your skin in the sun

Australians love the great outdoors. Here on Lake Macquarie, with the sunlight bouncing off the water we can fish, jetski, waterski, walk, run, ride bikes, sail – the list goes on! But! – All this fun in the sun can take its toll on our skin.

We asked Dr. Kathryn Holmes, Cosmetic Doctor and founder of the Mayah Clinic about looking after our skin when we are in the sun. Dr. Holmes has followed 15 years in general practice with another 17 years in Cosmetic Medicine, skin health and laser. She is a founding fellow of the Australasian College of Aesthetic Medicine.

The Mayah Clinic celebrated its 4th Birthday last year. The clinic is a professional boutique skin and laser clinic which customises treatment plans for every client after comprehensive assessments. All treatments and products are selected because they are supported by established research and can be relied on to provide realistic effective results.


We asked Dr. Holmes, is our skin important to look after?

“It sure is! We have a whole lot of skin. In fact our skin is the biggest body organ. It’s considered to be an organ because it has some very specific functions like maintaining body temperature, protecting us from infections, keep our insides in, activating Vitamin D and so on. It grows really fast. Your body gets rid of 30,000 to 40,000 old skin cells every day. In 2cm square of skin you have about 650 sweat glands, 20 blood vessels, 60,000 melanocytes (cells that give you skin colour), and 1,000 nerve endings. So we need to keep this organ fit and healthy!”


What can happen if we don’t look after our skin?

“We all know that we can get sunburnt which is an immediate result of forgetting to look after our skin. We also know that we can get skin cancer. Don’t think these are all problems only when we get old! Melanomas in particular can occur even in kids and young adults. They are the most deadly of the skin cancers and Australia comes in a close second to New Zealand in highest rates of melanoma in the world.”


Is that the only problem UV light causes?

“Not all all! Many of our common skin problems like acne and rosacea (redness and small blood vessels in the skin) are made worse by the sun. Of course, freckles and other brown spots, lines and wrinkles are all from sun damage.”


But if I am outside a lot I can’t help having my skin in the sun.

“I think that is a bit of a cop out. There is always a choice. Better, healthy, glowing skin is a choice. Of course it is harder to protect your skin in an Australian summer! If we all lived in a cave (or in Scotland!) we’d have beautiful skin! 80% of ageing changes in skin are caused by UV light damaging our DNA.”


So what can I do to look after my skin when in the sun?

“Cover up where you can. The less skin exposed to the sun, the easier it is. Rash vests, climacare long sleeved tops for exercising in, bandanas tied around your neck, hats (with actual brims! Not just caps that basically just shade your eyes!). Get into the shade when you can. Use an umbrella. Avoid being out in the middle of the day in summer. “

“Then sunscreen! We have so many choices with sunscreens now. So many 50+products, water resistant ones, some you can actually spray on wet skin (eg. Neutrogena Wet skin), some in stick form, in spray, some not sticky or greasy (eg. Neutrogena Dry-Touch), some for sport so they won’t run in your eyes, some for acne skin so they won’t clog up your skin, some that are superfine superfluids you can wear everyday (e.g RATIONALE #3 The Tinted Serum, a personal favourite). Yes, you will always need to reapply throughout the day if you are continually exposed, but it is possible.”


What if I do get sunburnt?

“We can all get caught out – and don’t kid yourself – a tan is your bodies reaction to sun damage. We are so lucky that we now have DNA repair enzyme creams that can get into our cells and work at trying to repair the trouble we’ve caused. At the Mayah Clinic we can recommend some excellent home products. The field of skin care products and claims made can be very confusing, which is why it is useful to see a professional for advice.”


But I what if I think its too late for me?

It is never too late to reduce your skin cancer risk and improve your skins appearance. There are various laser and light treatments that really can turn back time. Some of these are very easy to have, without needing lots of healing time. But I’d always advise going to see experienced fully qualified professionals for these treatments to avoid problems and achieve best results.”


Our approach is centred on personalisation. An initial consultation will ensure we can offer you bespoke, medically-backed guidance around which customised treatments will enable you to achieve long-lasting natural, targeted results, and healthy glowing skin.