June 21, 2024

Why taking that cold shower after sun exposure could actually be doing your skin more harm than good

With temperatures reaching 30 degrees, cute park meet-ups are a must, which comes, every now and again, with sunburn. Yep, sometimes we’re all not as diligent with applying SPF as we know we should be –but it’s seriously important people, so keep that suncream topped up.

If we’re looking for ways to cool down after a day spent in the sun, many of us head for a cold shower. But experts warn this could actually be doing your skin more harm than good. Depending on where you live in the UK and how hard your water is, the risk varies.

Somehow the heatwave in the UK is still going strong and we’re living for it – no one jinx it, please? !

Specific minerals can damage dry skin, making it even drier and so reducing the strength of the skin barrier (making sunburn even worse). Dr Ross Perry says this is due to magnesium and calcium, especially in areas with high levels of porous ground such as limestone or chalk.

Water softener expert at Harvey Water Softeners, Jose Sanchez-Noya, says: “Hard water can disrupt our skin cells and create a weakness in its protective functions. This means it can upset your delicate skin barrier, sapping the skin of its moisture. Pair this with swollen skin cells from ultraviolet (UV) damage and you’re guaranteed to have very painful, sore and itchy skin. ”
Over half of UK households have hard water coming out of their showers, with Ipswich, Norwich and Sunderland having the highest levels across the UK.

These are the top 10 areas for hard water in the UK:

  • Ipswich
  • Norwich
  • Sunderland
  • St Albans
  • Bury St Edmunds
  • Stevenage
  • Basildon
  • Colchester
  • Reading
  • Chelmsford

The good news is there are other ways to relieve sun-damaged skin, avoiding a cold shower. Dr Perry advises:

Cold compress

Lightly dampen your skin with a soft flannel which will cool the burn without exposing it to too much water. Use a dabbing motion and be careful not to rub at the skin as this will disrupt your skin barrier further.

Stay hydrated

Good hydration in and out is vital for sunburn recovery.
Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body which could leave you feeling dehydrated. It’s important to drink lots of water and use a good hydrating SPF to avoid any further dehydration.

Keep your skin moisturised

Gentle moisturisers are the key to sunburn recovery. While your skin is still damp (this will prevent the minerals from settling on the skin), apply generous amounts of ceramide-enriched moisturiser which locks in hydration. Be sure to avoid petroleum or any oil-based ointments which may trap the heat and make the burn worse.

Decrease inflammation

Take painkillers in the first few hours of getting your sunburn – a couple of ibuprofen could help reduce swelling and decrease discomfort.

Be gentle with your skin

You may have to rethink your daily skincare routine if you’re dealing with sunburn on your face. Ditch any exfoliators, toners, face masks, and anti-aging products until it starts to heal. Sun damage makes you skin extra sensitive therefore the ingredients often found in these products can cause your skin to blister or flare up with a rash.

“Don’t feel like you need to splash out on your sun care, a lot of companies will be charging for the marketing not the product,” Dr Perry warns.

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