Be Sun Smart

sun smart

The days are longer and lighter, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time to play outside! Whether you’re headed to the pool (even if it’s in your own backyard), the mountains or a nearby waterpark, make sure you take the time to protect your skin.

Painful burning, skin cancer, and premature aging are all the result of unprotected moments under the sun. To protect yourself from the sun’s damaging rays, consider these tips. Adjust them based on your individual needs, lifestyle, and susceptibilities.

Stay hydrated

You’ve heard the message a thousand times, but there’s good reason – staying hydrated is essential for our overall health. During the summer, it is especially important to stay hydrated before, during and after spending time outdoors. Most individual adults should aim for 64 fluid ounces of water a day. For someone who exercises or works outdoors, this amount should be greater. Most experts agree: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink – by this time you’re already dehydrated. Drink every 15-20 minutes.

Limit sun exposure

Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). You are at greater risk of skin damage during this period. If you must be outside during these hours, hang out in a shady spot, or create your own shade using an umbrella. Take precautions even when in the shade.

Apply sunscreen every day

Consumer Reports recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 that contains chemical active ingredients such as avobenzone rather than “natural” or mineral active ingredients such as zinc oxide. Only sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage can shield your skin from UVA and UVB rays, both of which contribute to skin damage. For CR recommended sunscreens, click here.

Liberally apply sunscreen to any exposed skin, including the delicate skin around eyes, face and neck 30 minutes (the amount of time it takes for it to start working) prior to going outdoors. Keep in mind that most products only last for two hours. Make sure to reapply every 1 to 1 ½ hours if you’re going to be out in the sun longer. Always follow manufacturer recommendations.

Don’t forget to accessorize

A wide-brimmed hat can protect the delicate skin around your face, ears and neck, while sunglass protect your eyes and prevent cataracts. Wear sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection. Make sure to still apply sunscreen even when accessorizing.

Don’t let cloudy days fool you

By now, you know the importance of applying sunscreen on sunny days, but did you know that 80% of all UVA rays can penetrate cloud cover? With their longer wavelengths, UVA rays can pass through clouds and glass, penetrating the dermal layers of your skin and affecting the epidermal layers where wrinkles are formed.

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