While summer sunshine welcomes an increase in Vitamin D and an end to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADD) for some, it also requires advance protection against skin damage and cancer. It only takes 15 minutes for ultraviolet (UV) rays to cause skin damage but less than 5 minutes to prepare.
Any sign of a tan means our skin has already been damaged. Below are some tips to enjoy the sunshine responsibly.
1. Slather on the SPF
The most important tip is to invest in a facial and body broad-spectrum SPF lotion. Broad-spectrum lotions will protect against both UVA and UVB rays, which are present even on cloudy or rainy days. The American Melanoma Foundation recommends at least an SPF15, although you may need a higher dosage depending on your skin type and time spent outdoors. For example, a day at the beach or bicycling will require at least an SPF30.
2. Check your mirrors
Just like an SUV, you have blind spots. Use a hand mirror to check application in difficult-to-reach areas, or ask a friend or family member to help you. Ears, scalp, necks, and toes are oft-forgotten spots that also need to be lathered up. In a recent study, SkinCancer.org found ears to be the third most frequent area for basal cell carcinomas.
3. It’s not just one and done
Remember, frequent re-application is key! Sunscreens only last for a limited amount of time, meaning that a morning application is not protecting you in the afternoon when the sun is directly overhead. Follow the instructions on your specific sunscreen, as it will specify how long the protection will last. If you go for a swim, re-apply after drying off – even if the sunscreen claims to be waterproof or water-resistant.
4. Dress Smart
A new trend has emerged called sun-protective clothing, which blocks physical rays. However, you don’t need to invest in a new wardrobe to stay safe. After you’ve applied your sunscreen all over, don a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap. Opt for a hat without holes, which allow unfettered sun access. Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection can be both stylish and safe, protecting your sensitive eye area and preventing cataracts. And lastly, while sandals and flip flops are a summer staple for many, you should always opt for lightweight sneakers or slip-ons for days when you plan to be outdoors for longer.
5. Throw some shade
The sun is most intense between the hours of 10am and 2pm. If you are outside during this time, seek shade. You don’t have to give up lunch on the patio or a good book on the beach, but enjoy it from under the comfort of your umbrella. On the bright side, you will stay cool and avoid overheating.
6. Run from tanning beds
This one seems obvious, but as 30 million – nearly 10% of all U.S. residents – tan indoors annually, it’s still a point to be made. Indoor tanning leads to cancer, premature skin aging, immune suppression and eye damage. According to DoSomething.org, the risk of melanoma is 70% higher for people who start tanning indoors before age 35. Plus, when there are so many natural-looking bronzing lotions and spray tans that are considerably less expensive and give immediate results, there is no reason to be tanning.
With these easy tips to stay safe, you can responsibly enjoy the sun!