It is true, if you stay out of the sun and practice good sun protection, you may help reduce the chance of getting wrinkles, brown spots, and skin cancer in the first place. For many of us, this is easier said than done. Getting out of the house, enjoying the outdoors and feeling the sun on our skin is a big part of summer.
Arming yourself with the knowledge and correct tools, you can not only sun safely (to a degree), but you can lessen your chances of skin cancers and prevent unwanted wrinkles.
The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's UV Index for your area
How to Stay Safe in the Sun this Summer
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is when the sun is most intense and produces the greatest chance of sunburn. If you must be outside during these hours, seek shade by using an umbrella, a tree or other type of shelter. Use protective clothing and sunscreen even when in the shade.
- Use sunscreen when outdoors. Higher SPF numbers indicate increased protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least SPF 30. Use sunscreen even on cloudy or cool days as damage from the sun's rays can still occur. Re-apply every two hours or after swimming or when sweating. Also, check the expiration date — shelf life is typically three years, less if it has been stored in high temperatures.
- Wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Proper, protective sunglasses help prevent damage to the sensitive skin around your eyes, as well as cataracts.
- Wear a hat. A wide-brimmed hat can protect your face, ears and neck. If wearing a baseball cap, don't forget to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears. Wear protective clothing that covers exposed areas.
- Be aware of medications that increase your sensitivity to the sun. Some antibiotics and over-the-counter medications can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Common drugs include antihistamines, such as Benadryl; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like aspirin or ibuprofen; certain antibiotics, including Bactrim or Tetracycline; antidepressants; antipsychotics; and some oral diabetic medications. Check with your pharmacist regarding your medication side effects.
- Protect youngsters. Children younger than six months should not use sunscreen but should be protected from the sun's rays with protective clothing and shade. Children six months or older should have sunscreen applied regularly when outdoors.
- Perform regular skin checks. Look for any changes to moles, freckles or birthmarks. Additionally, monitor any new skin changes that have occurred. Use a mirror to evaluate hard-to-see areas and have regular skin evaluations by your health care provider or dermatologist.
- Avoid the use of tanning beds. Tanning beds produce harmful UVA and UVB rays, which increase the risk for skin cancer, including melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer. There is also no proven evidence that use of tanning beds to obtain a base tan decreases your risk of sunburn. Beyond that, use of tanning beds increases the chance of developing cataracts and ocular melanoma.
After Sun Exposure Skin Care Tips
So… let's be honest, sometimes even with the knowledge and correct tools, we may over-do fun in the sun every now and then. How do you care for your over-exposed skin and help to prevent further damage?
- Take a cool shower, not cold, not hot, lukewarm is perfect. This will help to rid the skin of toxins and pollution that may have clogged the pores as well as cool the skin.
- Try Aloe Vera, not the gel in a bottle from the drug store but pure aloe vera from the plant. Take a leaf, slice down the middle (long ways) scoop out the gel like pulp into a bowl. Muddle or smash the gel until it has very few lumps. Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and then smooth onto the areas of skin that were exposed to the sun. This is an instant cooling, anti-inflammatory remedy that you will love!
- Hydrate your skin. After the aloe has penetrated the skin, use the most hydrating moisturizer that you can find. This will replenish the natural oils as well as help retain the natural water loss that occurs when we over-do in the sun. Try to avoid very synthetically fragranced creams and lotions after the sun as the fragrance could irritate the skin. Try our Probiotic Body Lotion Citrus Coconut.
- Hydrate your body from the inside out. Drink lots and lots of water. This will help to replenish the fluids lost by being out in the heat as well as help to hydrate the skin.
Love your skin as much as you love the summer sun, take the proper steps to protect it, and care for it!