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Demystifying Sun Protection: How to enjoy the sunshine safely

Updated: Jun 1, 2018

Photo by Alex Naeve

How many times have I forgotten to put on (or re-apply) sunscreen, suffered the painful and unsightly consequences, and sworn never to forget again? More than I'd like to admit.

Yeah, I know. It's no secret that skin can be damaged by the sun's harmful UV rays in less than an hour, depending on location and time of day. And I realize that sunburn isn't the only consequence of prolonged sun exposure: excessive exposure to UV rays can cause premature aging, and even increase the risk of skin cancer.

So, what are the options? Stay inside? No way!

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you enjoy the sun safely this season:

  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, and re-apply every 2 hours (more often if you're swimming--no sunscreen is 100% waterproof!). Make sure you're using sunscreen that is labeled "broad spectrum" and is at least SPF 15.

  • Cover up as much as possible. No sunscreen product completely blocks UV rays, so covering your arms, neck, chest and legs with UPF-rated clothing will help protect you from harmful exposure. A wide-brimmed hat will help shade your face, ears, neck, and the top of your head. For more information about UPF ratings and how to tell if a garment offers adequate sun protection, check out this post.

  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with a UVA/UVB protection rating of 100%. Your eyes can be exposed to UV rays by sunlight reflecting off of water or sand (or even snow), and sunglasses can offer additional protection from glare.

  • Limit prolonged sun exposure by taking breaks in the shade. Also, don't forget to drink plenty of water.

For more information on sun protection, check out our post on UPF rated clothing.

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