How To Be Safe In The Sun

Posted by on February 18, 2016


With the weather beginning to warm up and Spring right around the corner, we figure it’s the right time to talk about sun protection. Before you know it, you’ll be hopping on a plane to somewhere much more tropical than New York for spring break so it’s important to understand not only how to protect your skin from the sun but why it is important to do so.

So what exactly is SPF? We hear it mentioned and see it in many of our skincare products and we know it has something to do with sun protection. Here’s the breakdown:

Sun protection factor (SPF): The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection. For example, when applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, 1 hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending 2 minutes totally unprotected. People often do not apply enough sunscreen, so they get less actual protection. You should reapply often.

The American Cancer society reports more than two million people are diagnosed annually with skin cancer. Roughly 76,000 of them will be cases of invasive melanoma, skin’s deadliest cancer, and it will kill an estimated 9,200 people. It’s not just the pastiest of us that are at risk, all skin burns eventually. Naturally darker skin simply offers a higher baseline protection factor, not an unstoppable UV barrier.

There’s a harmful misconception that we only need to protect our skin with sunscreen in the summer time or when we hit the beach. But in the winter, the sun sits lower in the sky and at a different angle than in the summer months, and can actually give you more exposure.

UV rays can cause your skin to age prematurely causing wrinkles, fine lines, scaly red patches, tough leathery skin and brown spots. Research also shows that the sun’s UV rays can contribute to various eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration. UV light on the eyelids can also lead to skin cancer.

That’s why doctors and skin specialists strongly advocate wearing sunglasses in all seasons to help prevent such damage. Sunglasses are essential to shield the sun’s damaging rays in this area of the face. Plus it gives you an extra incentive to break out those fashionable shades you love!

The risk of skin cancer is much higher for those of light-skin than for dark-skinned African Americans or Hispanics. This is because melanin helps protect against UV radiation. People with dark skin have more melanin. People with fair (light colored) skin that freckles or burns easily are at extra risk.

How you can protect yourself:

  • Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors so it has time to penetrate into skin.  Manufacturers can claim that a product is water-resistant which means it starts to wear away after about 40-60 minutes in water. Most experts agree that any sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours if you remain in the sun but follow the recommendations on the product label.
  • When choosing a sunscreen product, be sure to read the label. Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended.
  • Slip on a shirt.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.
  • Cover up small children in playground or on beach. We love Coolibar for protective clothing, UV protection swimwear, sun hats, and sunscreen that will help protect against the UV rays that cause skin cancer.
  • Apply lip balm
  • Don’t forget the ears
  • Make a yearly appointment to have a skin check-up. Something that may look like a normal spot could be more serious.

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