Summer’s here! Ready to get outside and soak up that lovely sunshine?
Of course you are. It’s great to be outdoors – breathing in the fresh air and getting some exercise, or just having fun. There’s even a bonus of getting your daily intake of Vitamin D. But before you head to the jogging trail, park or the lake, take a few simple steps to protect yourself and your kids from damaging ultraviolet rays.
Easy Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun
1. Use sunscreen – liberally. Sunscreen is vital during summer when days are longer, and people spend more time outside. WebMD and the American Cancer Society recommend using sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 or higher that provides “broad-spectrum” protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to check the product label for those assurances.
Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before heading outside – about an ounce per application to adequately cover exposed skin. Most importantly, don’t forget to reapply every two hours, or more frequently after swimming or sweating. Remember that sunscreen usually rubs off when you towel dry, so put more on!
(Science note: UVA rays are typically responsible for the damage that can lead to premature aging and long-term damage, while UVB rays are the ones that burn).
2. Cover up. Wear light, loose-fitting, cotton clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible. It’s tempting to take layers off as the temps warm up, but don’t be fooled. Although it sounds counter productive, when you’re feeling the effects of the heat from the sun, grab a white or light-colored shirt or swim cover-up and let your body cool off naturally. This works because the heat causes you to sweat, but the sun evaporates the sweat on your skin before your body has a chance to cool off. Keeping covered allows that light layer of sweat to stay on your skin to cool your body naturally.
3. Invest in sunglasses. Yes, those $5 sunglasses from the gas station are convenient, but most likely they don’t offer the protection you truly need. Instead, buy a pair that looks cool but also blocks at least 99 percent of UV light. A proper pair of sunglasses will help save your eyes from not only the sun, but the reflection of sun that comes off the water at pools and lakes as well. The Mayo Clinic notes that UV rays can damage the skin on your eyelids as well as the more important parts of your eye, like your cornea.
4. Seek shade. If possible, set up camp under a tree that offers some protection. Plan B: plant an umbrella in the sand while at the lake – or invest in a pop-tent for those long summer days in the park. Limit your direct sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. And remember to stay hydrated all day long!
5. Tan naturally – and safely. Avoid the temptation to get a “base-tan” by using tanning beds and sunlamps. Both can cause serious skin damage and contribute to skin cancer. It’s a common misconception that you will not get tan if you use a high SPF sunscreen. In fact, you will tan more naturally, and your older self will thank you when you still have young, radiant skin at 90 years old!