Simple Tips to Help Protect Your Skin from the Sun This Summer
After months spent passing time indoors in an effort to escape the cold, once the weather warms up most of us will find any excuse to be outside. But, with increased time outdoors comes increased time in the sun—and an increased chance of sun damage caused by UV rays. Below we share some of the top ways the sun’s UV rays can affect skin and simple tips to help protect your skin from the sun this summer!
How the UV Rays Affect Skin
While most of us are well aware that prolonged time outside in the sun can lead to sunburns and skin cancer, did you know that UV rays are also one of the leading causes of skin aging? The sun’s harsh rays can not only dry out your complexion, they can also lead to premature wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots.
For these reasons—among others—it’s imperative that you follow the sun safety tips we share below, starting with number one: wear sunscreen!
#1 Wear Broad-Spectrum SPF—All Day, Every Day
If you don’t already take sunscreen application seriously, there’s no better time to start than summertime. When looking for a sunscreen be sure the label reads broad-spectrum as this ensures that the product can help to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays—both of which can damage the skin, leading to increased signs of skin aging, sunburns, and skin cancers like melanoma.
Sunscreen—whether you choose a physical sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen—must be applied each and every day regardless of the forecast outside. Read: Just because you can’t see the sunshine doesn’t mean those UV rays are sleeping. UV rays can penetrate the clouds, so even on gloomy, overcast days be sure to apply your SPF before leaving the house.
Finally, one application daily isn’t enough. In order to work properly, sunscreen must be reapplied throughout the day—typically every two hours when you’re spending time outside or near windows since UV rays can penetrate most panes. If you’re swimming or sweating, play it safe and reapply sooner than the recommended two hours. It’s best practice to follow the instructions on your chosen SPF!
#2 Seek Shade
After a cold winter there’s little that feels as good as basking in the warmth of the sun. However, if you’re hoping to keep your skin safe from those harsh UV rays, you’ll want to limit your time basking and seek shade during long periods of time outside. If you’re heading to the beach, pack along an umbrella that features UV protection. Having a picnic at the park? Look for a spot underneath a tree to lay out your spread.
#3 Wear Protective Clothing
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clothing is our first line of defense against the sun’s UV rays—and the more skin we cover up, the better! If you’re going to be spending lots of time outside, consider wearing lightweight clothing that can shield your skin without getting you too sweaty. You’ll also want to invest in a wide-brim hat to shield your face, scalp, and the back of your neck and UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your peepers from the sunlight.
If you really want to use clothing to help protect your skin, consider fabric that has UPF—or Ultraviolet Protection Factor. (Like SPF, but for your clothes!) UPF measures the fraction of UV rays that can penetrate fabric and reach your skin, so the higher the UPF the better protection.
#4 Stay Out of the Sun During Peak Hours
Whenever possible, plan your outdoor activities before or after the sun’s peak hours, which is when the sun’s rays are most intense. Typically, the peak hours are from 10am to 4pm, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. During this time frame make sure you are diligent about your sunscreen reapplication, wearing sun-protective clothing, and seeking as much shade as possible!