With summer upon us, many people want to be outside enjoying the sunshine, water, and the many warm-weather activities we don’t get year-round. But spending more time outside has one major drawback, intense sun exposure. It is crucial to wear sunscreen and protect your skin from damage all year round but your risk for UV exposure has a dramatic increase when soaking up the sun and enjoying the outdoors. Incorporating and reapplying sunscreen throughout the day will help protect your skin from sunburns and prevent further health complications like skin cancer.
Sunscreen helps reduce total UV exposure which in turn helps to lower your risk for skin cancer and sun damage. It is important to note that not everyone reacts to UV exposure in the same way. Some factors to keep in mind when determining the level of protection you will need are family history of skin cancer, photosensitivity, and any skin conditions you may have. Be aware that sunscreen alone is not enough protection from the sun; sunglasses with UV blockers, sun-safe clothing, and hats are all good options to help protect you from sun damage. Staying in the shade outdoors will also help cut down on your sun exposure and minimize damage.
You should aim to apply sunscreen every single day, about 30 minutes before going outside. Make sure to reapply every two hours that you’re exposed to the sun and immediately after rigorous activity or swimming. Health professionals recommend applying sunscreen to the whole body before getting dressed to help protect you should garments shift or you change clothes throughout the day. The most important areas to protect are those that get the most sun exposure such as the tops of hands and feet, your ears, face, and neck.
SPF stands for Sun Protective Factor. This label on a bottle of sunscreen tells you how long UV exposure will take to redden your skin versus not using sunscreen at all. For example, a 30 SPF sunscreen will take you 30 times longer to redden than without sunscreen if applied properly and thoroughly. If you are inside most of the day you will only need an SPF of about 15. However, if you spend quite a bit of time outdoors you should aim to pick 30+ SPF that is also water-resistant.
Broad-spectrum SPF protects against UVA and UVB. UVA are the rays that cause sunburns, while UVB causes tanning and aging. SPF 15 is a great choice for daily wear with low sun exposure while SPF 30 and above is ideal for long days spent in the sun. Water-resistant or very water-resistant sunscreens are the best pick for intense exercise or swimming. Water-resistant sunscreens are tested to be effective for about 40 minutes of swimming, while very water-resistant sunscreens are proven to be effective for about 80 minutes of swimming. No matter which sunscreen you choose, it is crucial to reapply throughout the day to reduce your exposure and ensure your skin is properly protected.
Sunscreen is critical for protecting your skin from damaging UV rays and reducing your risk for skin cancer. Understanding when and what types of sunscreen to use is crucial to helping you integrate the right products into your daily routine. Wearing extra protective clothing and staying in the shade when possible will help further protect you from the sun while letting you enjoy the outdoors. These great recommendations will keep you healthy all summer long.
For more information regarding sun protection and sunscreen check out these resources: