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Sun protection is also important to safeguard your skin against the risks of sunlight exposure.
But… Sun exposure is important because of the powerful health benefits that sunlight offers.
So how do you reconcile these two statements?
These simplified sun protection tips will help you navigate that blurry line between these two true but contradictory statements.
But first, a quick recap of why exposure to sunlight is as important as sun protection.
Benefits of Sunlight vs Risks of Exposure
Basking in the warm sunlight can do wonders for both body and mind.
– When UVB rays touch our skin, it kick starts a process that produces vitamin D, essential for strong bones, immune function, and overall well-being. Think of sunlight as nature’s free vitamin D supplement
– Exposure to sunlight boosts mood. Have you noticed how bright sunny days lift your spirits while the cold, dark days of winter leave you feeling sad and low? Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for boosting mood, reducing anxiety, and promoting a sense of calm and happiness. In fact, the lack of sunlight hours is the main factor that causes the winter blues.
– Sunlight exposure also helps regulate our circadian rhythm, keeping our sleep-wake cycle in check. Getting adequate sunlight exposure helps improve sleep quality, ensuring we wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.
– Moderate sun exposure stimulates the production of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals.
There’s no denying that we need some amount of exposure to sunlight every day. On the other hand, overexposure increases the risks of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer.
Spending excessive time in the sun without adequate hydration can also lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
This research article provides valuable insights into the risks and benefits of sun exposure.
Following the sun protection guidelines listed below will help you enjoy the remarkable benefits of sunlight while minimizing the risks of over-exposure.
1. Timing Matters: Avoid Peak Sun Hours
The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and that’s when they do the most damage.
To minimize sun damage in summer, plan your outdoor activities outside of these peak hours. Consider going for a morning walk or enjoying outdoor activities in the late afternoon when the sun is less intense.
During fall and winter, you may want to schedule your outdoor time during the peak hours to get the most out of the fewer sunshine hours.
By adjusting your schedule, you can still enjoy outdoor adventures while minimizing sun exposure.
2. Seek Shade When Outdoors During Peak Sunlight Hours
Sometimes, you just can’t avoid being out during peak sunlight hours. During those times, seek shady areas as much as possible.
While walking, choose a pathway that allows you to seek shelter under trees or canopies. This helps to diffuse and reduce direct exposure to the sun’s rays, protecting your skin and also helping you stay cool and comfortable despite the blazing sun.
When planning outdoor activities, consider locations with natural shade or create your own shade with portable sun shelters.
3. Choose The Right Sunscreen And Wear It Correctly
Sun protection is your first line of defense against sun damage. It shields your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
To get adequate sun protection, it’s important to choose the right sunscreen. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Most importantly, make sure it is a mineral sunscreen.
Understanding the benefits of mineral sunscreen vs chemical sunscreen will give you a better idea of why mineral sunscreen is better.
Additionally, ensure that the sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, which provides adequate protection against the sun’s harmful rays.
It’s just as important to make sure you reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating profusely.
Last but not least, avoid the common mistake of applying sunscreen only on sunny days; harmful UV rays can penetrate clouds, so protect your skin regardless of the weather.
4. Protect Areas Of The Body That Burn The Easiest
Some areas of the body – underarms, breasts, upper arms, tops of the feet, and back of the knees – burn more easily than others.
This is because these areas don’t get as much sun exposure as other areas of the body. This leaves them more delicate and susceptible to sunburn.
5. Embracing Protective Clothing: The Power of UPF
In addition to sunscreen, protective clothing plays a significant role in safeguarding your skin from the sun during peak sunlight hours.
Look for clothing labeled with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. This rating indicates the fabric’s ability to block UV radiation.
Opt for long-sleeved shirts, pants, and dresses made from tightly woven fabrics that offer higher UPF ratings. Cotton clothes are best during sunny days as they allow the skin to breathe.
The long-sleeved, UPF rule does not apply as strictly outside of the 10 am – 4 pm window when the sun’s rays are not as intense.
6. Combine Form And Function With A Stylish Wide-Brimmed Hat
A wide-brimmed hat is both a fashionable accessory and an effective sun protection tool. It provides shade for your face, neck, and shoulders, reducing direct sun exposure.
When choosing a hat, look for one with a brim that extends at least three inches all around. This size will provide optimal protection while allowing you to enjoy your time outdoors without constantly worrying about the sun’s rays.
7. Shield Your Eyes With UV-Protective Sunglasses
Your eyes are also susceptible to sun damage, so don’t forget to wear sunglasses with UV protection. Opt for sunglasses that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Look for labels that indicate the level of UV protection offered by the lenses.
By shielding your eyes from harmful rays, you can prevent conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye-related problems caused by prolonged sun exposure.
8. Stay Hydrated Through The Day
Maintaining proper hydration is crucial for overall skin health.
Drinking sufficient water helps keep your skin moisturized and prevents it from becoming dry and susceptible to sun damage.
Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day and increase your intake when spending time outdoors in hot weather.
Staying hydrated not only benefits your skin but also helps regulate your body temperature and supports overall well-being.
9. Nourish Your Skin from Within With Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Alongside external sun protection measures, consuming antioxidant-rich foods can fortify your skin from within. Antioxidants help combat free radicals generated by UV radiation, reducing the risk of cellular damage.
Include foods like berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and nuts in your diet to provide your skin with essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients contribute to healthy skin and boost its natural defense against the sun’s harmful effects.
Katie Wells of Wellness Mama has an interesting article on how ‘eating your sunscreen can protect your skin from the inside out.’ This medically-reviewed article highlights what foods provide powerful sun protection. Loading up on these foods can keep your skin prepared for safe sun exposure during the summer months.
10. Use Antioxidant Skincare Products For Extra Protection
In addition to a nutritious diet, incorporating antioxidant-rich skincare products into your routine can provide an extra layer of protection.
Look for products containing ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea extract, or niacinamide. These antioxidants help neutralize free radicals, promote collagen production, and support the skin’s natural repair process.
Remember to apply these products alongside your sunscreen for maximum benefits.
11. Be Mindful of Reflection: Sun Exposure near Water, Sand, and Snow
Surfaces like water, sand, and snow can reflect and amplify the sun’s rays, leading to increased UV exposure. When near these reflective surfaces, take extra precautions to protect your skin.
Apply sunscreen more frequently, wear protective clothing, and consider wearing sunglasses to shield your eyes from glare.
Remember, sun protection is essential whether you’re enjoying a sunny beach vacation, a snowy skiing trip, or any other activity involving reflective surfaces.
12. Post-Sun Care: Soothing and Treating Sunburn
Despite our best efforts, sunburn can sometimes occur. If you find yourself with sunburned skin, it’s important to take immediate action to soothe and aid in the healing process.
Start by cooling the affected area with cool water or damp compresses. Apply aloe vera gel or a moisturizer with soothing ingredients like chamomile or cucumber to alleviate discomfort. Avoid further sun exposure until your skin has healed completely.
Use any of these 12 home remedies for sunburn relief to soothe skin fast.
Taking care of your skin and protecting it from the sun’s harmful rays is essential for maintaining its health and youthful appearance. By following the sun protection tips provided in this article, you can enjoy the outdoors while minimizing the risk of sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer.
Is sunscreen necessary on cloudy days?
Yes, even on cloudy days, harmful UV rays can penetrate through clouds and cause skin damage. Therefore, it’s important to apply sunscreen regardless of the weather.
What is the recommended SPF level for sunscreen?
It is recommended to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. This level of SPF provides adequate protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Learn more in this ultimate guide to SPF.
Can I get sunburned through clothing?
While clothing provides some level of protection, especially if it has a higher UPF rating, it is still possible to get sunburned through thin or loosely woven fabrics. It’s best to combine clothing protection with sunscreen for optimal sun protection.
How often do I need to reapply sunscreen?
Ideally, you should be applying sunscreen every two hours. More frequently if you’re swimming or sweating profusely as the protective sunscreen layer gets washed away. Reapplication ensures continuous protection throughout the day.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.