Summer is quickly approaching, and that means the sun is shining bright. More people are spending time outside, and that calls for a refresher in sun safety. Any type of exposure to the sun can be dangerous, even if you are “naturally tan.” Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside, just be cautious and take preventive action. Following a proper skin-care plan can help preserve your skin in addition to protecting yourself from the sun. Here are some things to consider before you spend the day soaking up the sun.
5 Sun Safety Tips
1. Apply sunscreen
You’ve heard it over and over again, but yet some people still decide to go without it. Whether you burn easily or not, the sun’s rays can still be damaging. You won’t see the effects until later in life, but not wearing sunscreen will catch up with you. It’s recommended that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
Aside from just applying it, make sure you have complete coverage. This includes your ears, scalp, and lips. Buying chapstick with SPF in it is great for covering your lips because no one wants to taste sunscreen. There’s also spray sunscreen specifically designed for your scalp. Don’t forget to reapply!
2. Don’t use tanning beds
Just don’t do it! Even if you’re just going once to get your “base tan,” it’s still dangerous. Tanning beds can be more harmful than laying out in the natural sunlight. Most tanning beds only radiate UVA light, which penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB. We guarantee that your dermatologist would tell you that tanning beds aren’t good, no matter how many times you ask and how many excuses you come up with.
3. See a Dermatologist
Even if you have no history of skin cancer, one of the most important steps to sun safety is to see a dermatologist once a year. Sun exposure can cause moles and other spots to appear on the skin, and sometimes they can be cancerous. Once a year really isn’t too much to ask, and it could save your life. You can also do regular checks on yourself to look for any changes or new moles, lumps, or discoloration.
4. Wear hats and sunglasses
Hats are great for protecting the scalp and can provide shade to other skin that is exposed. Sunglasses also have the power to block UV rays, so your eyes will stay safe from the sun. There are even sunglasses that can block 99% of UV light, so these would be the best investment. Sun damage to the eyes can lead to other eye diseases such as cataracts and cancers.
5. Seek Shade
The best sun safety tip out there is to limit your exposure altogether. Finding a shady area can allow you to still enjoy the beautiful weather without putting yourself at risk. UV rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so finding some shade is ideal during these hours.
3 Tips Choosing the Right Sunscreen
1. Look at the SPF rating
SPF means “sun protection factor.” It’s best to choose a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, and even higher for more sensitive areas such as your face. The level of SPF you should use depends on your skin type and family history. If you are fair-skinned, it’s likely that you burn easier and should use a sunscreen with higher SPF. You should also take into consideration any medications you are taking that might make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
2. Use Broad-Spectrum
Broad-Spectrum sunscreen is the best for sun safety. While all sunscreens protect from UVB rays, broad-spectrum sunscreen can block out UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays cause skin burning, while UVA cause skin aging.
3. Waterproof Sunscreen is not a Thing
Water-resistant does not mean waterproof. The FDA has guidelines that control the labels manufacturers are allowed to use on their products. If a sunscreen label claims that it is water-resistant or sweat-resistant, the company must specify how long it lasts while swimming or sweating (ex. 40-80 minutes).