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How can I protect my skin from the sun?

Sunscreen bottle with product used to create a line drawing of the SunWhile we all love a bit of Vitamin D and the natural mood booster that comes with it, it's crucial to remember that the sun can also have harmful effects on our skin. Excessive sun exposure can lead to premature aging, skin damage, and even serious conditions such as skin cancer. 

It’s time to talk about how you can protect your skin from the sun.  You can enjoy the sunny weather and still take care of your skin with these snippets of advice.

Apply Sunscreen Regularly

The first line of defence against the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun is sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. 

Go for a product with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and apply it generously on all exposed parts of your body. Keep in mind, sunscreen should be applied 15-30 minutes before heading outdoors and reapplied every two to three hours, or immediately after swimming. 

Don't forget areas like your ears, back of the neck, and tops of your feet. Gradually expose yourself to the sun with most of the time spent under some shade.

Wear Protective Clothing

While sunscreen plays a key role in protecting your skin, you should also consider your clothing. Long-sleeved shirts and hats with wide brims can provide good protection against the sun. 

Additionally, several brands offer clothing with a Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating. This rating measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate the fabric. 

Look for a UPF of 30 or more for optimal protection.

Teenage girl under a sun hat lying in the sun

Seek Shade

Whenever possible, try to stay in the shade, especially during the sun's peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). While this doesn't provide complete protection (as UV rays can bounce off reflective surfaces), it can significantly reduce your exposure.

Group of friends sitting under the shade of a tree on a hillside

Protect Your Eyes

Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, which can lead to cataracts. Choose sunglasses that block out 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays for maximum protection. 

Watch Out For Reflective Surfaces

Water, sand, snow, and even concrete can reflect UV rays and increase your exposure. This is why you can still get sunburnt when you're under an umbrella on the beach.

Teenage girl sunbathing holding a towel in front of her face for shade

Lips and Tops of The Ears

Your lips and ears need protection, too. Use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply often, especially after eating or drinking.  Use SPF 50 on your ears, particularly the tops.

Check Your Skin

Lastly, make a habit of checking your skin regularly for any changes, such as new moles or changes to existing ones. Early detection of skin cancer significantly improves the success rate of treatment.

Did You Know?

Vitamin D Production

When UVB rays hit the skin, they stimulate the production of vitamin D, which is vital for bone health and the immune system. However, this process only requires a small amount of UV exposure.

UV Penetration and Aging

UVA rays, which represent the majority of the UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface, can penetrate deeply into the skin and cause long-term skin aging. They are capable of passing through glass and cloud layers, meaning you can still be affected on overcast days or inside your car or home.

Influence on Skin Conditions

UV radiation can trigger or exacerbate certain skin conditions, such as lupus and rosacea, which are not commonly associated with sun exposure. Moreover, for some other conditions like psoriasis, controlled UV radiation exposure is used as a treatment method.

UV Index and Altitude

The UV index increases with altitude. For every 1,000 meters increase in altitude, UV levels increase by approximately 10-12%. This means that individuals living at or visiting higher altitudes are exposed to more UV radiation and have a higher risk of skin damage.

Skin's Response to UV Radiation

Prolonged exposure to UV radiation induces an adaptive response in our skin, which is essentially the development of a tan. The skin increases melanin production as a protective measure to absorb UV radiation and minimize DNA damage. However, a tan is a sign of skin damage, not health, and it provides only minimal sun protection equivalent to an SPF of about 3 to 4.

Sun cream being applied over the left shoulder of young woman in black swimming costume

Protecting your skin from the sun is a necessary step for everyone, regardless of your skin type, age, or the climate you live in. By incorporating these measures into your daily routine, you can enjoy the sun, safely.


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