Sun Safety: Protection

haf11Summer has arrived. It’s beautiful out and the sun is shining, which means more outdoor activities . Getting some sun is good for us. The sun provides us with vitamin D, which allows our bodies to absorb and use calcium. Not to mention, the sun is one of God’s most beautiful creations. “Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:16-18, NKJV).

Being out in the sun can make us feel great, but over-exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause premature aging and skin cancer. The damage may not be visible now, but the sun damage appears over time with slowly sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, discoloration, freckles, and age spots. Nothing can undo the damage that has already been done to your skin, but it’s never too late to begin caring for your skin now, to prevent additional damage.

Protect with Sunscreen

Sunscreen should be a part of your everyday skincare routine. Many skincare products, such as lotions, moisturizers, foundations, and lip balms/lipsticks now contain an SPF. When choosing a sunscreen, an SPF of 15 or higher is recommended for protecting against both UVA and UVB rays. Read the label to see how long before sun exposure you should apply the sunscreen and how often to reapply. Typically, you should apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2 hours, if the label does not specify certain times. Remember that the SPF tells how long a sunscreen will last, not how powerful it is, so choose a sunscreen with a high SPF to keep from having to constantly reapply. Make sure to reapply sunscreen after swimming and after activities where you are sweating.

haf2The term “waterproof” on a sunscreen bottle is deceiving. No sunscreen can be kept from washing off. Some of the ingredients may help certain sunscreens to be more water resistant than others, but all sunscreen eventually washes off and must be reapplied. Remember to apply sunscreen liberally! An average-sized adult needs approximately 2 tablespoons of sunscreen for skin to be appropriately covered. Make sure you remember your lips, ears, neck, and underneath the shoulders of sleeveless shirts (most tops will shift at some point).

Protect with layers

If you are not swimming, cover up with long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Make sure your sunglasses aren’t just making a fashion statement. Sunglasses should have protection from UVA and UVB light, and should be labeled as such. Alternate your time in the sun with time in the shade. Remember that even on an overcast or windy day, you can still become sunburned. The sun’s rays are able to penetrate through the clouds and reflect off of sand, water, and pavement. A windy day can be deceiving, as you can be unaware that your skin is burning since the wind keeps your skin feeling cool.

Coming up

In a future article, we’ll discuss tanning beds, self skin exams, and sunburn care, so check back soon!

By Sherri Houmard

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