Here’s a bright idea for keeping skin healthy and youthful looking: Protect it from the sun, especially during the summer months when you’re more likely to spend time outdoors.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the sun causes more than 90 percent of visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging. And despite all the warnings, the rate of deadly melanoma skin cancer has almost tripled in the last 35 years.
One of the best ways to protect your precious skin from the damage caused by too much sun is to reduce unprotected exposure.
4 ways to save yourself from the sun’s rays
Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can put you at risk for skin cancer. To decrease your risk, try these tips the next time you are in the sun:
- Limit your exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Regularly use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen with a value of 30 or higher. Apply liberally 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every hour as needed, particularly after swimming or perspiring.
- Use sunscreen even on cold or cloudy days — UV rays can reflect off water, cement, sand and snow.
- Your lips need protection, too—use an SPF 15 or higher lip balm.
What you should know about sunblock
Broad-spectrum sunscreens can be very effective…except when they’re not. Here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing and using sunblock:
- Water-resistant sunscreens can be less effective than regular sunscreen.
- If you plan to use a product that combines sunscreen and insect repellent, be aware that its SPF is cut by more than 30 percent.
- Sunscreens lose their effectiveness over time, changing in color or texture. At the expiration date or yearly, sunscreen should be discarded.
- Over-the-counter pain relief medications and antihistamines can decrease the efficacy of sunscreen. So do some prescription drugs, including antibiotics as well as many acne treatments containing benzoyl peroxide.
Put the brakes on skin damage in the car
The average American spends more than 100 minutes a day in a car, according to a study by Harvard Health Watch. That’s more than four years of a person’s lifetime! Yet, millions of drivers do not realize that UV rays are able to penetrate glass windows in cars and can contribute to long-term skin damage or cancer.
You can take steps to prevent damage from the sun while driving this summer (or any time of year) by using sunscreen before you get in the car. You may also consider installing a special tint on car windows to prevent exposure to harmful UV rays.
The eyes have it
Last but not least, don’t forget that your eyes also need protection from the sun. The Skin Cancer Foundation offers the following advice to keep your eyes safe from the sun’s rays:
- Wear sunglasses year-round whenever you are out in the sun. Sunglasses should block 99-100 percent of both UVA and UVB light. Check the manufacturer’s label before you buy.
- Wear a hat with at least a 3-inch brim. Hats can block as much as half of all UV rays from your eyes and eyelids.
- Whenever you are outside, seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when sunlight is the most intense.