5 Sun Safety Tips to Avoid Sun Damaged Skin This Summer

During warmer months, the sun’s rays are especially strong. And while a sunny day feels great and tans are popular, too much sun is a big risk to your health. The following sun safety tips will help you navigate the summer months in a way that’s friendly to your body’s largest organ: your skin!

The Danger of Ultraviolet Sun Rays

UV (ultraviolet) rays are sun rays that penetrate deep into your skin and are a big factor in premature aging. They can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over time, UV rays can also damage elastin fibers in the skin, causing it to stretch, sag and bruise more easily.

But the biggest reason to shield your skin from UV rays is an important one: Too much exposure can cause skin cancer. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, more people in the U.S. are diagnosed with it each year than all other cancers combined.

To protect yourself from this scary statistic, be smart with how you spend your time in the sun:

1. Know What a Healthy Sunscreen Is

Just one bad sunburn can double your risk of melanoma skin cancer (the worst kind), so it’s important to protect your skin when you’re outside—even if it’s a cloudy day.

Sunscreen safety tips:

  • Use a sunscreen with full UV protection and a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. SPF 30 or 50 is best.
  • Use a thick layer on all exposed skin areas, and re-apply if you’re in the sun more than two hours and/or after you’ve been swimming or sweating.
  • Use these EWG guidelines to avoid sunscreens with toxic ingredients.

Keep in mind SPF refers to how long the sunscreen will protect your skin. An SPF 15 lasts about 3 hours and 45 minutes while SPF 30 lasts around 7 ½ hours (but this varies depending on your skin color/shade). Above SPF 50, the sunscreen is not any more effective.

2. Avoid High-Sun Times, and Use Shade

The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so try to avoid the sun during these times. And when you are out, make sure there’s easy access to shade, shelter or cover, like a tree or umbrella.

3. Wear a Wide-Brimmed Hat and Sunglasses

Choose a wide-brimmed canvas hat (that goes all the way around) to protect your face, neck and ears. A baseball cap will also work, but you’ll need sunscreen on your neck and ears.

And don’t forget about your precious eyes! Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection to protect your eye health and the skin around them.

4. Choose the Right Clothing

Darker-colored clothes with tightly woven fabrics are best for protecting your body from the sun’s rays. Loose, long pants and long-sleeved shirts provide the most protection, if you live in an area where they’re not too hot to wear.

5. Check Your Skin for Any Changes

See your doctor if you notice any changes in your skin. Weird moles, red lumps or patches, craters, or open sores are all things to get checked out.

If your skin is fair, pay close attention to places that are usually exposed to the sun, including your head, face, neck and ears. If you have darker skin, the most common skin cancer type is found on places not in the sun, like your feet or legs.

The Bottom Line

Good health means caring for your whole body all year long, and that includes protecting your skin from harmful sun rays. So, use these sun safety tips to stay healthy as you enjoy your time in the sunny weather!

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