As the summer months approach and families gravitate toward the beach and other outdoor events, it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe. Here are 5 tips for protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is the level of protection that sunscreen provides against dangerous UVB rays, which are the type of ultraviolet rays primarily responsible for the causing sunburns. Even though there are many levels of sunscreens available, only those labeled SPF 30 and above provide sufficient protection from UVB rays.
In addition to UVB rays, there are damaging UVA rays that penetrate the skin deeply and cause signs of aging, such as fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and more. Exposure to both UVA and UVB rays causes various skin cancers, including malignant melanoma.
It’s important to know that the level of SPF indicated on the bottle represents its effectiveness against UVB only, unless otherwise indicated as “broad spectrum.” Broad spectrum sunscreens meet FDA standards for proper protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15. However, the American Academy of Dermatology encourages everyone to choose a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.
Did you know that 80% of UV radiation has the ability to penetrate clouds? Even if it doesn’t seem hot or sunny outside, harmful UV rays are still present. It’s important to get into the habit of putting on sunscreen every single day, all year long. Yes, even during the colder seasons.
Make sure you wear clothing that will protect your face and body from the sun. Sunglasses that block 99% of UV light are ideal, along with wide-brim hats and loose, lightly colored clothing. Thin, dark, or black fabric tends to absorb the most heat, so wearing thicker fabric is the best way to avoid transmitting harsh heat to your skin.
Even if you wear water-resistant or sweatproof sunscreen, you must take breaks out of the sun every so often. Formulas that advertise as “water-resistant” or “sweatproof” should still be reapplied every 40-80 minutes once your skin becomes wet. Sit under an umbrella or some sort of shade to give your skin a rest from the blazing sun. Take that time to reapply your sunscreen thoroughly and hydrate.
Skin is the body’s largest organ, so it only makes sense that it needs special attention. Being in the sun for an extended period of time can easily dry out your skin. Be sure to moisturize daily. The best way to protect your skin is to include SPF in your daily routine. There are several different lotions, creams, and skin care products available for every skin type.
If you have a sunburn, rubbing aloe vera gel over the affected area usually helps soothe the pain and speed up the healing process.
Following these tips can help lower your risk of developing skin cancer, so be sure to prioritize your skincare. During your daily skin care routine, make checking for any irregular spots or moles a habit. If you have any questions or areas of concern, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your primary care provider or dermatologist.
American Academy of Dermotology. (2019). Sunscreen FAQS. Retrieved from American Academy of Dermatology Association: https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs
Simon, S. (2018, August 9). How Safe is Your Sunscreen? Retrieved from American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/how-safe-is-your-sunscreen.html
Venosa, A. (2018, June 28). Sun and Skin News. Retrieved from Skin Cancer Foundation: https://www.skincancer.org/blog/broad-spectrum-protection-sunscreen/
World Health Organization. (n.d.). Global Solar UV Index. Retrieved from World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/uv/publications/en/UVIGuide.pdf