The warmer months have arrived, and children and adults alike are ready to bask in the sun. But while the sun’s rays feel good, they can be your skin’s worst enemy, potentially causing wrinkles, age spots, and even skin cancer.
Skin cancer rates are on the rise at more than 76,000 new invasive melanoma cases poised to be diagnosed in the United States last year. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are actually caused by sun exposure.
How sun-safe and protected are you and your family? Here are some tips from the experts so you can safely play under the sun this season.
Over time, according to WebMD, the sun’s UV light harms skin fibers called elastin, which prompts skin to sag and stretch as they break down. Too much time in the sun, too, can also lead to skin freckles, white spots, rough texture, and yellow of skin, to name a few issues.
First on one’s sun-safe list should be wearing sunscreen every day, no matter what weather or season you are in. The sun protection factor or SPF should be 30 and declared “broad-spectrum” on the label, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Slather the sunscreen on your skin at least 15 minutes before going outside, with 1 ounce (about the size of a shot glass) as the recommended amount. Reapply at least every 80 minutes, or more frequently as you sweat or swim.
Even babies and young kids need sunscreen, so check out the findings from nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group on which sunscreen products are most child-friendly. Generally, the best-rated products contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for ultraviolet filters, which are deemed stable in sunlight and offer balanced protection from UVA and UVB rays.
Fight The Sun’s Harmful Rays From Inside Out
Taking a skin supplement will boost your protection, advised dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann. One key ingredient is Polypodium leucotomos, a fern extract shown to help shield the skin from UV damage and even reduce redness after sun exposure.
Take the recommended dose in the morning, particularly if you know you will stay out in the sun for long periods of time. But don’t forget to wear that sunscreen, Baumann reminded.
Wear The Right Accessories
Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats are not just fashionable, but also helpful in the fight against harmful sun exposure. While you’re at it, don long-sleeved shirts and pants as well.
Cosmetics like makeup as well as contact lenses that advertise UV protection are near useless, as you still need to use sunscreen and wear those glasses with broad-spectrum protection.
As for makeup proclaiming the letters “SPF” on the label, Baumann thinks you should forget it.
"You would need to apply 14 times the amount [of powder] people normally use," she said, adding that the same goes for foundation and similar cosmetics for covering skin.
Stay indoors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as much as you can, as this is the time of the day when the sun is at its most merciless. Check your skin regularly to determine what’s normal, along with any new growth or change that emerges.
Instead of using tanning beds, settle for tanning lotions, gels, and sprays that temporarily tint your skin (but not before you check the label and the ingredient list and composition).