Summer is a popular time to get out and swim, barbecue, and play on the beach, but it’s important to remember that while you’re in the sun, you need to protect your skin from premature aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Use of proper sun protection will allow you to safely enjoy all of your summer activities without concern.
There are some sunscreen essentials you should remember as summer weather calls you out of doors. Summer or winter, we recommend daily use of sunscreen to prevent both photoaging and skin cancer. 90% of all skin cancers are the result of sun exposure and it is estimated that one in five Americans may develop skin cancer at some point.
When choosing your sunscreen, a moisturizer with an SPF of 15 is not adequate to prevent damage to your skin. A makeup or moisturizer with an SPF is not adequate for protection during any extended time outdoors. It’s probably ok if you’re only walking in and out of your car or office, but it you are going to be outside for any length of time, you should apply a full-spectrum sunscreen.
We recommend a sunscreen ideally with an SPF ranging between 30 and 50. Protection against both types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB, is essential. UVB rays burn the skin, but UVA rays are damaging to your skin’s structure and health. On the other hand, anything with an SPF of 50 or greater provides the essentially the same protection as SPF 50, which blocks 98% of UVB light. Something with an SPF of 100 blocks 99% of UVB light, but at levels above SPF 50, any difference in protection are likely to be caused by the way you apply your sunscreen and how frequently you reapply it. Look for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in your sunscreen for the best protection. Water resistant sunscreen is important if you plan to swim or if you’ll be working up a sweat while outdoors.
Reapplication is important, since ingredients in sunscreen break down after UV light exposure. We recommend reapplication every 2 hours to maintain the effectiveness of the SPF. If you are perspiring or if you’re swimming, you should reapply more frequently.
You need to put an adequate amount of sunscreen on exposed areas to properly protect your skin. Research indicates most people put on about half of the amount they need. An ounce of sunscreen is approximately the amount needed to cover your whole body. Don’t forget lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher. It’s also important to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside, so it has time for absorption into your skin.
Many people think sunscreen is the only thing they need to consider to adequate protect their skin from aging and skin cancer, but in reality, you still need to cover-up and avoid the midday rays. Some additional tips to properly protect your skin are listed below.
Avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are most damaging in the continental United States during late spring and early summer, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Daylight savings time moves the clock, so the most hazardous time for sun exposure during daylight savings time is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can’t always avoid outdoor activity during this peak part of your day, but there are a few ways to protect yourself.
Wear a hat!
A wide-brimmed hat can shade your face, head, ears, and neck. A hat that has a full brim (instead of just a visor) offers protection to your ears and the back of your neck, both areas where deadly melanomas can develop. If you want to wear a baseball cap, don’t forget to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Sunglasses are essential
Cataracts tend to develop in our eyes as we age, but you can reduce the risk by using sunglasses, preferably glasses that wrap around and block at least 95% of both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Most sunglasses sold in the United States block both UVA and UVB rays. A good lens will also reduce squinting, which causes wrinkles around the eyes and forehead. Your sunglasses will also protect the delicate periorbital skin.
Clothing is also protective in the sunlight, but varying degrees of protection are available depending upon the weave and color. Dark colors may offer more protection than lighter ones. Tightly woven fabric in a loose-fitting garment offers the best UV protection when out of doors, but you should still protect exposed skin with sunscreen.