Love to hang out in the warm sun? Go for it! Too much sun can give you painful burns and skin cancer, but that doesn't mean you have to shut yourself in all day. Just be smart about it. Grab these helpful tips, get your bottle of Coppertone, and get outside!
When Is The Sun Bad For You?
Too many UV rays cause skin burns. They can also damage the DNA in your skin. If this happens to certain skin cells, cancer can start. Even a few sunburns can increase your risk for skin cancer later in life. UV rays react with the melanin in your skin.
Melanin: What Is It?
Melanin is a chemical in your skin that defends it against damage. Everyone has different amounts of melanin in their skin. Fairy-skinned people have less skin on their skin Darker skinned people aren't immune to skin damage and still need to be careful in the sun.
UVA and UVB Rays
- UVA Rays: We are exposed to these rays from the sun. Tanning beds also give off these rays. Tanning beds, bronze your skin, but also a result of damage, as studies have proven.
- UVB Rays: These are contributors to sunburn, not to mention cancer.
Always wear sunscreen outside for sun protection. Sunscreen blocks out harmful UV rays in two ways:
Reflecting the light with a physical barrier. Zinc oxide is an example of this. Notice that lifeguards wear white cream on their noses? That’s zinc oxide.
Absorbing the UV radiation. Oxybenzone commonly does this in many sunscreens.
When choosing a sunscreen, pay attention to SPF, or sun protection factor. SPF tells you how effective the product is protecting you from UVB rays.
- SPF 15: Sunscreens with this rating block around 94 percent of UVB rays.
- SPF 30: Sunscreens with this rating block around 97 percent of UVB rays
- SPF 45: Sunscreens with this rating block around 98 percent of UVB rays.
You should try to use at sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and look for sunscreens labeled "broad spectrum."
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside. No matter what your SPF is, reapply it every two hours. Reapply it more often if you get wet or sweaty.
Besides applying sunscreen, what else should you know?
Be especially careful of the sun between 10am and 2pm–Its rays are strongest between these hours. Indoor activities best work during this time, but if you are going to be outside, it would help to find shade when you can. If you’re at the beach, bring an umbrella.
Clouds don’t block UV rays. Don't let overcast skies fool you! You can still get burned because up to 80% of UVA rays can penetrate clouds.
If you tan easily and don't get burned out often, you can still suffer from skin damage from UV rays! Don't let that make you lazy about sun safety.
Don't worry about vitamin D. Many people think they can spend lots of time on the sun to get the vitamin D they need. It is true that you can get vitamin 10 minutes of midday sun exposure to get enough.
Don’t forget your eyes – Wear sunglasses. Polarized sunglasses are best. They are treated with a coating which protects them from UV rays, which can cause cataracts when you get older. The thin skin on your eyelids burns easily.
Not all clothing blocks out sun rays. If you hold a light and can easily see through it, it won´t protect you from the sun. Darker, thicker fabric works best. Dry fabric blocks out more rays than wet fabric.
Use your head. Protect it from sun! The sun beats down on the tops of our heads and can cause nasty scalp burns. Wear a hat. Baseball caps won't protect your ears and necks, so put sunscreen on those areas, as well as your lips, nose and the rest of your face. No one loves the "red-nosed" look!
Don't use expired sunscreen. Expiration date does matter. If there’s no expiration date listed, write it on the bottle.
Plan ahead. Keep your screen on your purse or bag so you can always apply and reapply when you need to.
If your skin looks a little pink, cover up. It can take 12 hours for a sunburn to fully show up. Get out of the sun to prevent a worse burn.
Ugh – You Have A Sunburn. Now What?
Apply aloe vera. You can get it directly from the aloe plant or buy an aloe after-sun gel product at the store. It will help with pain, itching, peeling and inflammation.
Hydrate. Sunburns can dehydrate you, so drink plenty of water.
If you have a fever, don't feel yourself, or have severe blistering, you may want to see your doctor.
Share Your Thoughts
Have you ever had a sunburn? How do you stay safe in the sun? Comment below!