There is no feeling quite like the sun warming your face on that very first summer day. It reminds us of picnics, bar-b-ques, and time with friends and family at a beach or lake. But, while you’re enjoying the great outdoors, the sun is causing damage to your skin. 

We all know that overexposure to the sun can cause painful blisters and sunburns, but many are not aware that the sun’s rays can cause much more long-term damage. The truth is, there is no such thing as a healthy-tan. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage the skin in just 15 minutes of exposure. While sun exposure in moderation is good for the body because it provides us with vitamin D, extended exposure to the harmful effects of UV rays can cause skin damage including burning, discoloration and skin cancer.

Because children spend the most time outside, your body acquires the majority of its sun damage before age 20. But, this doesn’t mean that if you’re over 20 you don’t need to protect yourself. In fact, sun exposure is a leading cause of wrinkles; so protecting yourself from the sun is the best way to avoid them. Over time, exposure to the sun’s UV rays damages fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers finally break down, the skin begins to sag and stretch, loosing its elasticity that allows the skin to tighten back into place. 

No matter your age, it is very important that you take the proper precautions to protect yourself.  But, don’t worry—you don’t need to completely avoid the sun. We’ve put together a list of ways to enjoy your summer without the skin damage!

Sunscreen

Always apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before exposure to the sun to allow the skin to absorb it. Do this even on slightly cloudy or cool days, because even though clouds block the sunlight, they don't block all of the sun's harmful UV rays. Also, keep in mind that sunscreen wears off. Reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Be sure to put sunscreen on the commonly forgotten areas of your skin such as ears, nose, hairline, the “V” of your chest and even your feet. 

  • Understanding the Labels
  • Approximately 95 percent of the UV light that reaches earth is Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. UVA rays deeply penetrate the skin, reaching below the epidermis (outermost skin layer) causing skin aging and wrinkling. UVA contributes to, and may even initiate, the development of skin cancers, such as melanoma.
  • Approximately 5 percent of the UV light that reaches earth is Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVB rays tend to damage the skin's superficial epidermal layers. Because of this, UVD rays are the cause of skin reddening and sunburn, cataracts (clouding of the eye lens) and effects on the immune system. 
  • SPF stands for Sunburn Protection Factor. It’s a scale of the product’s effectiveness against sunburn-causing UVB rays. If you are outside for longer than 2 hours, choose SPF 30 or higher.

Clothing

Wearing protective clothing can save you and your family from potential sunburn, as well as reduce your risk of skin cancer. Pack an extra t-shirt or cover-up in your beach bag to help reduce skin’s exposure to direct sunlight. Fabrics like linen will keep you cool and comfortable on a hot day. Keep in mind that tightly woven clothing provides the best protection against UV rays. Protective clothing typically has a SPF level of 15, so do your best to compliment it with sunscreen.

  • Accessories
  • Sunglasses are a must-have when practicing sun safety. Choose glasses that provide both UVA and UVB protection. Sunglasses also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure, reducing the risk of cataracts.
  • Hats that shade your face, neck and ears, such as wide-brimmed hats, will typically give the best protection. When looking for a hat, choose one that has tightly woven fabric over hats that have holes in them.

Shade

The easiest way to reduce your risk of UV exposure is by taking cover in shade. While shade provides retreat from direct sunlight and gives you temporary relief from the sun’s heat, it is still recommended to wear sunscreen and protective clothing to offer full protection from skin damage. 

Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between experiencing five or more blistering sunburns between ages 15 and 20, and the increased risk of certain types of skin cancer, including melanoma.  Because of this, we ask you to please take the proper sun safety measures every day. If you have any other precautions you would like to add to the list, sunburn remedies or sun safety tips, please leave them in the comment section below. 

This article was brought to you by The Healthy Home Company.

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Tags: safety, summer, sun, sunblock, sunscreen

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