The sun can be a great source of Vitamin D, but too much sun exposure can be dangerous. It has been linked to skin cancer, premature aging, and other skin problems.
It is lovely to bask in the sun, spend some quality time with the family at the beach, or go for a hike on a sunny day. But, how can you protect your skin from the sun and still enjoy these activities?
What is Suncare?
Suncare is the practice of protecting yourself from the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays. The sun emits two types of harmful UV radiation: UVA and UVB.
UVA rays are less intense but can penetrate deep into the skin, causing wrinkles and other signs of aging. They also can contribute to skin cancer.
UVB rays are more intense and cause sunburn. They also play a major role in skin cancer.
You need to be protected from both types of UV radiation to reduce your risk of skin damage, including skin cancer.
SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect your skin from UVB rays, the kind that causes sunburn. The SPF number is the amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned compared to how long you could stay in the sun without sunscreen.
For example, if it would normally take you 20 minutes to get a sunburn, using a sunscreen with SPF 15 would allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer — or for 300 minutes — without burning.
Keep in mind that no sunscreen protects you completely and that higher SPF numbers do not necessarily mean better protection. An SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UVB rays; an SPF 50 blocks about 98%; and an SPF 100 blocks about 99%. And remember that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours or sooner if you’re swimming or sweating.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that everyone use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days. And the AAD also recommends that people use broad spectrum sunscreens, meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
There are two ways to get broad-spectrum protection:
- Look for a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” on the label and has an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Use a combination of products, such as applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and wearing protective clothing, such as a pants, long-sleeved shirt, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
6 Ways to Protect your Skin from Sun Damage
Here are six ways to protect your skin from the sun and still enjoy your time outdoors:
Avoid Peak Sun Hours
The sun’s rays are the strongest between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. If possible, stay out of the sun during these times. Also, be aware of how the sun’s position changes during the day, as UV rays can reflect off surfaces like water, sand, and concrete.
Wear Protective Clothing
In addition to sunscreen, wearing the right clothing can help protect your skin from the sun. Look for loose-fitting clothes made of fabrics that are lightweight and breathable. Dark colors offer more protection than light ones. And wet clothes offer more protection than dry ones. For extra protection, you can also find clothing specifically designed to protect your skin from the sun. This includes items like swim shirts, rash guards, and cover-ups. Protective clothing includes:
- A long-sleeved shirt
- A wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck, and ears
- Sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
Use Sunscreen Correctly
When used correctly, sunscreen is an effective way to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Follow these tips for how to use sunscreen correctly:
- Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin, including the face, neck, ears, and hands. Be sure to apply it 15 minutes before you go outside.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
- Use sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher. Look for sunscreens that are labeled “broad spectrum,” which means they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Avoid products that combine sunscreen with insect repellent.
Be Careful around Sand and Water
Sand and water can reflect the sun’s rays and increase your risk of sunburn. If you’re at the beach or pool, take breaks in the shade, wear a hat, and reapply sunscreen often.
Use Extra Protection in the Car
The car’s windshield blocks some of the sun’s UV rays but not all of them. And UVA rays can pass through the glass, so you’re still at risk for skin damage when driving. To protect yourself, wear sunscreen and clothing that covers your arms and legs. And if possible, park in the shade.
Know Your Medications
Some medications make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. These include antibiotics, antihistamines, certain antidepressants, and some acne medications. If you’re taking any of these medications, be sure to take extra care to protect your skin from the sun.
Treating a Sunburn
If you do end up with a sunburn, there are some things you can do to help relieve the pain and discomfort:
- Take a cool shower or bath. This will help soothe your skin and reduce inflammation.
- Apply a cool compress. This can help reduce swelling and redness.
- Apply aloe vera or a moisturizer. This will help keep your skin hydrated and prevent peeling.
- Take ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain reliever. This will help reduce pain and inflammation.
If your sunburn is severe, blisters are forming, or you have other symptoms like nausea or dizziness, we recommend using Mineral Matte Tinted Sunscreen from The Pink Foundry. These could be signs of heatstroke, which is a medical emergency. This sunscreen from the TPF could prove beneficial in the long run.
While spending time outdoors in the summer sun can be fun, it’s important to take steps to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.