By Brian Acton
When the weather warms up, people start looking forward to spending time outdoors. But it’s important to protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by the sun, as they can damage your skin cells and contribute to painful sunburns or even skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that 90% of non-melanoma instances of skin cancer are directly related to UV radiation.
Luckily, there are ways to get outside and enjoy the sunshine while minimizing the impact of UV rays. Here’s how to prevent the sun from damaging your skin this summer.
- Use Sunscreen
Sunscreen is an important tool in reducing your exposure to UV rays, but you need to make sure you’re using it right. Simply applying sunscreen once then heading outside for hours at a time won’t cut it. Follow these sunscreen tips to make sure you’re protected:
- Use at least one ounce of sunscreen (approximately a shot glass’s worth) to cover your body, applying to any area that will be exposed to UV rays.
- Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go outside so your skin has time to absorb it.
- Use SPF 30 at minimum to block the majority of UV rays.
- Check the expiration date, as sunscreen does expire after a certain amount of time.
- Just because your sunscreen is water resistant doesn’t mean it’s waterproof. Make sure to reapply your sunscreen every two hours, even if you’re staying dry.
- Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days, because UV rays can still get through.
- Avoid Mid-Day Exposure
UV rays are strongest between 10AM and 4PM. If you can, avoid the sun during these peak times and get in your outdoor activity in the morning or later evening.
- Find the Shade
If you’re spending more than a few minutes outdoors, look for opportunities to find some shade. For example, running on a shady path will offer you more UV protection than running on a sunny street. If you’re headed to the beach, consider bringing a beach umbrella to block the sun.
- Cover Up
Wear clothing that protects your skin from UV radiation. Not all clothes are created equal - long sleeve shirts, long pants, and other clothes that cover the greatest amount of skin are the most effective. Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors, and a floppy hat can protect your neck and face. If you’re going to be in the sun for a prolonged time, many outdoor brands offer UV protective clothing which provides additional protection.
- Wear Sunglasses
Long hours in the sun without eye protection can damage your eyes and the skin that surrounds them. UV-blocking sunglasses can protect your eyes from UV rays. When shopping for sunglasses, look for ones that block 99% to 100% of UV rays.