The sun is out, temperatures are rising, and summer is finally here. While you may want to jump at every opportunity to spend time outside, it’s important to be aware of the impacts too much sun can have on your health, as well as ways you can go about protecting yourself from potential harm.
The sun emits two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays that can have long-term effects on your physical well-being if you don’t protect yourself. UVB rays affect the top layer of your skin and are responsible for causing sunburns while UVA rays penetrate deeper into the dermis and can lead to the development of wrinkles and premature aging.
Both UVA and UVB rays can threaten the health of your skin if you don’t take proper precautions. Luckily, there are preventative measures you can take to keep your skin healthy all summer long. To help, here are a few:
A sunscreen’s SPF, or sun protection factor, indicates its effectiveness in protecting your skin from UVB rays. Experts advise using sunscreens with a minimum SPF of 15 and reapplying at least once every two hours. Depending on your sensitivity to the sun, you may need a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which filters out 97% of UVB rays. In addition, you should reapply more frequently if you’re swimming or engaging in physical activities that cause you to sweat to ensure you’re always protected.
For additional protection, look for SPF products labeled as “broad-range” as these offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays. SPF products that include a combination of zinc oxide, octisalate, and titanium dioxide are most effective at preventing sun damage.
It’s also vital that you wear sunscreen every day, even when there’s overcast. Up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate through clouds, leaving you vulnerable to exposure when you least expect it. That’s why it’s important to make sunscreen an essential component of your daily beauty routine.
Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods
You probably know that wearing sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect your skin, but did you also know that you can effectively shield yourself from the sun’s rays by switching up your diet? Foods, such as almonds, carrots, kiwis, tomatoes, and blueberries are all excellent sources of antioxidants that can help protect your skin. Antioxidants play an important role in fighting off free radicals that would otherwise attack your skin cells and make you more susceptible to sun damage. By incorporating more antioxidant-rich foods into your summer diet, you’ll keep your skin looking vibrant and healthy all summer long.
Consider Your Daily Habits
Some everyday products and medications can cause you to be more sensitive to sunlight, so it’s important to know when you may require extra sun protection. If you take medications like birth control pills, antibiotics, or NSAIDs, you may want to take additional precautions to protect yourself from UV rays. In these cases, it’s best to consult with your doctor to determine the best way to protect yourself.
If you already use corrective beauty products for sun damage, such as skincare products containing retinol or other active ingredients, such as AHAs, which are commonly found in acne treatments, be sure to only apply these products at night, and follow up with an SPF in the morning.
Limit Your Outdoors Time
Too much time spent out in the sun can increase your chances of developing skin cancer or other health conditions, especially if you’re not careful. Even short bursts of sun exposure can add up, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid the sun entirely. However, it does mean you should be cognizant of the best times to spend time in the sun.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to spend time outside in the morning and early hours of the evening when UV rays are not as harsh. UV exposure tends to be the greatest between 10am and 4pm, so limiting exposure during those hours will ensure you minimize the sun’s impact on your skin.
Wear Sun Protective Clothing and Accessories
You may think that, by wearing a long-sleeve shirt, you are completely protected from sun exposure. However, you probably don’t want to layer up during the summer. And besides, the typical t-shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15 anyway.
If you have higher sun sensitivity, consider wearing clothing that has been specially designed to filter out UV rays or wash your clothes with Sun Guard detergent to transform your clothing into an added layer of protection.
You can also accessorize with a wide-brimmed hat that provides sun protection to your scalp, hair, ears, and neck, or wear polarized sunglasses to shield your eyes from potential damage from sun exposure.
Look Out for Signs of Sun Damage
It can be difficult to determine when you’ve gotten a little too much sun. However, obvious and immediate signs of overexposure, such as redness, itching, and swelling, indicate that it may be time to step back inside. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to get out of the sun and reapply sunscreen.
If you don’t take proper precautions, prolonged sun exposure may eventually lead to the development of age spots, hyperpigmentation, melasma, and wrinkles, so it’s best to notice the signs and take the appropriate actions early to mitigate damage.
With the warm season upon us, you should be spending your summer enjoying time outdoors, not worrying about the health of your skin. With these tips, you’ll ensure you’re properly protected from the sun.
For more information on proper summer skincare, check out the infographic below: