Summer is here and it’s natural to want to get out in the sun and soak up some vitamin D. But you also need to think about sun safety and your skin and how you’ll protect it while you’re enjoying the summer season.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays – from the sun and other sources like tanning beds – are the primary cause of skin cancer. Too much exposure can also cause sunburn, eye damage and premature wrinkles. But shielding your skin with clothing, broad-spectrum sunscreen of sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher, and staying in the shade can help lower your risk.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers the following advice on sun safety:
- Use a broad-spectrum (both UVA and UVB protection) sunscreen with SPF of at least 30.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours as well as after sweating or swimming. (No sunscreen is waterproof; instead some are labeled as water-resistant, but only for a limited time).
- Check the expiration date. If there is no date, sunscreen is good for about three years, but that shelf life is shortened if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
- Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
- Opt for loose fitting long sleeved shirts and tightly woven pants for the best protection. A wet t-shirt offers less protection than a dry one. Darker colors may offer more protection than lighter ones, but the typical t-shirt only offers protection of SPF 15, so you should still wear sunscreen.
- Encourage rash guards and beach cover-ups at the beach and pool to reduce sun exposure.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck.
- A tightly woven fabric, like canvas, works best. Avoid straw hats with their many holes.
- Baseball caps are great, but don’t offer ear and neck protection, so be sure to sunscreen those areas well.
- Seek shade: limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially during the hours of 10am and 4pm, when UV rays are strongest.
- While at the beach or pool, be sure to rent or bring an umbrella or shelter so you can give your skin a much-needed break from the sun.