7 Tips to Surviving Summer with Fair Skin

Summer should be a time spent lounging by the pool, working in the garden, playing in the backyard or browsing farmers’ markets. All this outdoor fun should have you looking and feeling like a sun-kissed beach babe… unless you have fair skin.

If you identify with the pale population, summer may have you wondering, “Maybe I’ll get darker after I burn a few times,” or even, “If I just keep getting lots of freckles, will it become one giant freckle and make me look tan?” Forget these warm-weather woes and check out these tips to survive, and make the most of, summer rays without experiencing the pain of burning, itchy, blistering skin, which you may know all too well.

pale woman with freckles and floppy hat

Wear sunscreen, not tanning lotion. Sure, many women who tan easily swap sunscreen for tan accelerating lotion, but don’t be fooled. These women are not tan because they use accelerators; they're tan because of the melanin levels in their skin. You can’t change the complexion you’re born with, but you can protect it. And to protect your skin properly, use sunblock every day. Whether you plan to be outdoors for five minutes or five hours, shield your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays with sunscreen that is SPF 30 to SPF 50 and reapply every two hours.

Ease into sun exposure. Just as you can’t run a marathon without training, you can’t expect your skin to soak up the sun after being shielded by sweaters for months. On your first few trips to the pool, lather up in sunblock and limit yourself to swimming and lounging for about an hour. Even if you don’t tan, your skin will become less sensitive to UV rays and you will have a lower risk of burning once you ease into summer sun exposure.

Check the UV Index. The Ultraviolet (UV) Index indicates the levels of UV radiation in the atmosphere. High UV levels contribute to the potential for sunburn, eye damage, skin aging and skin cancer. Use a free app like Ultraviolet to help you decide what kind of sun protection you need, or whether you should stay indoors altogether, based on the UV levels in your area.

uv rays index app
(Photo: Ultraviolet)

Embrace the floppy hat trend. Floppy hats are a hot fashion trend this summer, but they are also practical for pale people. Wearing a large hat outdoors protects your face and eyes, which are extremely sensitive to sun-related skin damage or aging. It may also protect your shoulders and chest, two areas that are regularly exposed to UV rays and burn easily.

Wear a coverup… and not the lace or strapless kind. These little black coverups may look cute but they don’t protect prime sunburn targets like your shoulders and chest. Wearing a thin cotton t-shirt may also allow your skin to be exposed to the sun. You can try wearing tightly knit or woven clothing from your closet or opt for fabrics with UV protection like the beach coverups and rashguards from Cabana Life that provide protection without sacrificing style.

navy strip dress
(Photo: Cabana Life)

Have after-sun creams handy. Redness may happen on days you forget to reapply sunscreen for the fifth time or if swimming washed it away. A little overexposure is okay, but caring for your skin after sun damage is essential. After-sun balms and creams can hydrate your skin to minimize peeling and prevent the appearance of visible sun damage. Aloe gels can relieve pain from burned skin, too.

Rock your cool complexion. Having alabaster skin and/or freckles makes your complexion unique. While you may have spent most of your life worried about whether you should wear shorts or sleeveless tops in public for fear of being mistaken by a ghost, know that the bronzed beauties you admire actually covet your chocolate-sprinkled face. They may even spend time trying to fake freckles to copy your cool complexion. So be confident in the skin you’re wearing; Others wish they had it!