Safe Habits Under The Sun
Outdoor activities are great for your health, so long as you practice habits that protect your skin from summer sun.
We’ve waited a long time for summer this year, and now that it has been officially ushered in by the Memorial Day weekend, we are all headed outdoors to make the most of these warm sunny months. As you equip yourself for warm weather activities, don’t forget to take a few steps to protect your skin from overexposure to the sun. Sun protection isn’t just for days at the beach. Sun exposure adds up every time you are out in the sun, so it’s important to make sun safety a habit.
- Cover up to limit UV exposure. A light long-sleeved shirt, long pants, long skirts, and a wide-brimmed hat will deflect harmful rays. Darker colors and tightly woven fabrics provide more sun protection than light colors and loose weaves. If you can see light through your clothing, the sun’s rays can get through too.
- Slather on the sunscreen for safety. If you are in a swimsuit, you need an ounce of sunscreen to cover all of your exposed skin. If you are using less, you aren’t using nearly enough.
- Know how to use sunscreen—one application isn’t enough. For the best protection, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go out, and reapply every two hours. If you are swimming or working up a sweat, reapply sunscreen more often.
- New FDA guidelines prohibit a sunscreen from claiming to be waterproof or sweat proof. You may see a 40- or 80-minute water-resistance time limit on sunscreen labels. This tells you how long the sunscreen will last in wet conditions before you have to reapply.
- Timing matters. The sun’s rays are most damaging between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Try to schedule outdoor activities early in the day or later in the afternoon. If you are out midday, try to stay in the shade.
- Don’t fall for the “base tan” myth. A base tan is very unlikely to protect you from burning, and there’s evidence that repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation, at the tanning salon or under the sun, just increases your risk of premature skin aging and skin cancer.
Short-term summer fun shouldn’t expose you to long-term risks of sun damage. By making smart sun practices a habit, you can make the most of summer days while protecting the health of your skin.
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