Wearing sunscreen reduces your risk of skin cancer and prevents premature skin aging. With those benefits, you’d think everyone would be on board with using sunscreen, yet only half of all Americans report that they’re diligent about protecting their skin from the sun.
At Health and Beauty Associates, our goal is to help you avoid skin damage from the sun, so we put together our top five tips for keeping your skin youthful and healthy.
Unprotected sun exposure damages your skin
It doesn’t matter if your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light comes from natural sunlight or using a tanning bed. When you don’t protect your skin, both sources of UV light damage your skin more than you may realize, leading to:
Early skin aging
Everyone ages at their own rate, depending on their genetic tendencies, lifelong skin care habits, and unprotected exposure to the sun. Of these risk factors, however, sun damage is the most significant cause of premature aging. It’s estimated that 80% of skin aging, including wrinkles, loose skin, and brown spots, is due to ultraviolet light.
The three most common types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma — are all caused by exposure to UV light. UV rays damage the DNA in skin cells, triggering an overgrowth of cells that becomes a cancerous tumor.
The cumulative effect of all UV exposure increases your risk, including normal daily sun exposure, blistering sunburns in childhood and as an adult, and prolonged exposure in the summertime.
Tips to protect your skin from the sun
These are our top five tips for protecting your skin from sun damage:
Use sunscreen daily and reapply often
You’re probably not surprised to see sunscreen at the top of the list. To be sure you have the maximum protection, you should apply sunscreen daily and reapply it frequently. You even need to use sunscreen on cloudy days because up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate through clouds and harm your skin.
It’s important to purchase a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Broad-spectrum means it blocks UVA and UVB rays. The SPF number reflects the length of time you can stay out in the sun, but it’s based on how quickly you normally burn.
For example, an SPF of 30 means you’re protected for 30 times longer than it usually takes you to burn. Rather than trying to figure out how quickly your skin burns and what that means relative to your SPF, keep it simple: Just plan to reapply your sunscreen every two hours.
After jumping in for a swim, you need to rub on more sunscreen after you get out of the water. And you should reapply more often than every two hours if you’re active and sweating a lot.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat
Wearing a hat protects your scalp, while a wide brim adds an extra layer of protection to your face and eyes.
Wear sun-protective clothing
Clothing can protect your skin by absorbing or blocking UV light. To find out how effective your summertime clothing might be, hold it up to the light. If you can easily see through the fabric, UV rays can get through it, too.
You may want to consider buying clothing specially designed to provide optimal sun protection. This type of clothing has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) that indicates how much UV light is absorbed.
Don’t forget your lips and eyes
Your lips are susceptible to skin cancer and aging, so be sure to wear a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunglasses are also important because your eyes can become sunburned. Look for a label that says they provide 100% UV protection.
Stay out of the sun from 10am to 4pm
We realize this time frame is quite restrictive, and there’s no way you want to forfeit that much time hanging with friends and family at the beach or pool.
The point is to remember that the sun’s rays are strongest from 10am to 4pm. During that time, be super diligent with your sunscreen or try to stay in the shade. Whenever you have a choice, however, schedule activities like yardwork and gardening in the early morning or evening.
If you have any questions about how to protect your skin from sun damage, or you’d like to learn about treatments to rejuvenate photodamaged skin, call us at Health and Beauty Associates. You can also send us a message or book an appointment here on our website.