by Tamara Hardesty
Your whole body is your instrument; so when you’re thinking about protecting your skin from the sun this summer, think about protecting your voice, too.
We all know that too much sun exposure can cause signs of aging as well as cancer, so here are a few tips to protect your skin from the sun:
1. Wear sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and SPF lip balm. Make sure to get the hard-to-reach areas including your ears and hairline. Sun especially hits the nose, hands, and tops of feet. Your chin could also be at risk due to reflected light. Apply, re-apply, and use waterproof sun screen if you are swimming.
2. Beware of cool, cloudy days, as the sun’s rays still go through the clouds.
3. Cover your body with dark, breathable clothing, and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes.
4. Find some shade from the sun.
5. Doctors say that there is no such thing as a ‘healthy tan’, so don’t sunbathe, and especially do not use oils that increase the effects of the sun on your skin.
So, what about protecting your voice from the sun? If you spend all day in the sun, this can leave you dehydrated, and dehydration can have harmful effects on your voice. Dehydrated vocal cords will lose flexibility, which will make them less able to thin for higher pitches. This can cause a singer to increase vocal effort, and that strain can cause damage to the instrument. Tips to protect your voice from the sun and heat:
1. Air conditioning can dry out your throat. Use a humidifier during sleeping hours to offset these harmful effects.
2. Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water!
3. Sugary, chemically flavored drinks, and especially caffeinated drinks like cola and coffee, are NOT helpful, because caffeine has a diuretic effect, which can add to dehydration. Drink these in moderation. Unsweetened juice, vegetable juice, herbal teas are OK.
4. Alcoholic beverages are not hydrating, and cause us to talk and laugh loudly, tiring out the voice. Drink these in moderation.
So this summer, before you spend the whole day at the pool or the beach, just remember to protect your voice as well as your skin, so that you will be ready to practice, go to your lesson, audition, or performance.