The warmth of the sun on your skin may feel wonderful, especially after the cold chill of winter. But while the sun may have attractive benefits, such as being a major source of Vitamin D, and adding a healthy glow to your complexion, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays accelerate aging of the skin, damage skin cells, and may potentially lead to skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers is protection from UV light exposure with sunscreen, staying in the shade whenever possible, and wearing protective clothing and accessories.
The arrival of summer typically marks an increase in leisurely outdoor activities for many, while others may actually work outside year-round. So, it’s important to be protected from overexposure to the sun’s rays by liberally applying sunscreen, the first line of defense before heading out the door. Here are some guidelines for optimum sunscreen usage:
Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with both UVA/UVB protection, and at least an SPF of 15 or higher. Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours, particularly after swimming. Use a sport sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher if you’re involved in a lot of physical activity outdoors.
Generously apply sunscreen to all areas of exposed skin, especially your face, neck, and décolleté. You could also use a facial moisturizer with an SPF of 15 to 30 for year-round protection, and a lip balm with SPF 15 to 30. For the delicate skin around your eyes, use a stick sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
Try to avoid being in the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the UV light is strongest. Seek out the shade to help shield you from the harmful effects of the sun. Wear sunscreen also during winter months because even on a completely cloudy day, you can be exposed to nearly 40% of the sun’s UV rays.
There are additional steps you can take to help protect your skin: Avoid UV tanning booths; don’t get sunburned; wear protective clothing from head to toe; wear sunglasses with 99% protection from UVA/UVB rays; check your total body skin regularly for any changes and consult your health care provider annually for a professional skin exam.
By following these guidelines throughout the year, you may help make a difference in how you age, as well as help prevent skin cancer.
If you have questions or concerns about your skin, be sure to consult your health care provider.