Summer is here and that means swimming, hiking, sunshine… and UV rays. UV rays, or ultraviolet radiation, are invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun. Though it is healthy to be outside in the sun and asboring Vitamin D, too much of this energy can cause sunburn, eye damage, and is the #1 cause of skin cancer. There are several ways you can protect your skin from UV rays, but one of the most important is wearing sunscreen. If you find yourself having a hard time knowing what type of sunscreen to use, check out the helpful tips below.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen
You should be wearing sunscreen every day of the year, but it's even more important to apply sunscreen during the summer when the days are longer, the sun is stronger, and we are spending more time outside. When choosing a sunscreen, there are a few things you should be on the lookout for to ensure the product will protect your skin.
Choose a sunscreen with "broad-spectrum" protection – Sunscreens with this label protect against both UVA and UVB rays. All products protect again UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer and premature aging. Products that aren't broad spectrum must have a warning that they only protect against sunburn.
You also want to choose a sunscreen with a sun protector factor (SPF) of 30 or greater – The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays – the higher the number means more protection.
"Water resistant" doesn't mean "waterproof" – There are no sunscreens that are waterproof or sweat proof. When a products label claim to be water resistant, they have to specify whether it lasts for 40 minutes or 80 minutes when swimming or sweating.
To get the best protection, reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and more often if you're swimming or sweating. Sunscreen usually will rub off when you towel dry.
Along with applying sunscreen, there are other ways you can protect your skin from the harsh UV rays:
- Cover up: When you are out in the sun, wear clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect as much skin as possible. You can also use sunglasses that block at least 99% of UV light.
- Stay in the Shade: Limit your direct exposure to the sun, especially between 10am – 4pm, when the UV rays are strongest.
- Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps: Both can cause serious long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.
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