It’s summertime, which means the sun is stronger than ever. Too much sun exposure can not only increase the risk of sunburn and certain skin cancers, it causes your skin to show signs of aging, too. The ultraviolet rays can cause age spots (hyperpigmentation), wrinkles, and loss of elasticity, all of which make the skin look older.
Fortunately, you can lessen the undesirable effects of the sun by protecting your skin. In honor of Sun Safety Week, here are some ways to keep your skin healthy and protected, even in these sunny summer months!
Avoid the sun at its strongest
The easiest (not to mention cheapest) way to protect your skin from the sun is to reduce exposure, especially during late morning and early afternoon hours when the sun’s rays are stronger. While it’s not always practical to avoid the outdoors completely during this time, you can plan ahead and schedule outdoor activities, like trips to the beach or the park, for early morning or late afternoon hours.
When you are out in the sun, be sure to cover up with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Excessive sunlight can be damaging to your eyes as well as your skin, causing sunburn of the eyes and raising the risk of cataracts. Make sure you choose a pair of sunglasses that offer UV protection.
Be aware of what you’re wearing, too – not all clothing offers the same level of sun protection. The sun can even burn the skin through some clothes! In general, clothes with darker colors and thicker fabric weave are more protective. If you want to up your clothes’ UPF (ultraviolet protection factor), you can wash them with a special UV protecting laundry detergent, which is like sunscreen for your clothing.
Use the right sunscreen
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, three factors you should pay attention to on a sunscreen label are the level of protection, the SPF, and whether or not it is water resistant. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA (associated with aging) and UVB (associated with burning) rays. Also look for a SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 and above. Your sunscreen should be water resistant so that it holds up better on wet or sweaty skin. Apply liberally, as being stingy with your sunscreen reduces its effectiveness, and reapply regularly.
Also, be aware of how old your sunscreen is. Sunscreens are created to maintain their strength for up to three years and will be less effective after that time. If your bottle has an expiration date on it, toss it after that date and get a new one. If you can’t remember when you got it, look at the texture; separation or a watery consistency means it’s definitely time to toss it.
Saving your skin
Being smart about sun safety is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to make a huge difference to the quality and appearance of your skin. Protect your skin from the sun now and you’ll see a big difference down the road.
Talk with your dermatologist to learn more about how to properly care for your skin. You can find more skin care tips and info on my website, and if you’re in the Danville, CA area, give our office a call to schedule an appointment.