UV Safety Awareness Month: How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun
The importance of UV safety awareness cannot be understated, which is why there’s an entire month dedicated to educating and raising awareness. July is not only Ultraviolet Safety Month but also the sunniest month of the year. Of course, we need to protect ourselves from the sun throughout the year, but we must be extra vigilant during these summer months when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
UV Safety Awareness Can Often Be an Afterthought
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a sunburn to remind us. It’s easy to forget that it doesn’t take long for the sun to start damaging your skin. Aside from being burned, prolonged unprotected exposure to the sun’s UV rays can have different harmful effects ranging from wrinkles, sun spots, premature aging, and even cancer.
While UV rays’ potentially harmful effects are a real cause for concern, it doesn’t mean you need to change your summer plans. Here are some of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays this summer.
Apply the Sunscreen
Sunscreen is one of the most efficient and essential tools in your arsenal for protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher for the best protection
- Choose one that is water-resistant if you plan on getting wet
- Apply at least 20 minutes before going outside
- Opt for a brand that has broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
- Reapply at least every 2 hours and each time you get out of the water or sweat heavily
Sunscreen protects your skin reasonably well, but it’s not enough. The best approach is to use it in conjunction with other protective measures.
Take Shade Breaks
Take some of the pressure off your sunscreen by spending some time in the shade. The sun’s UV rays are especially strong between 10 am and 4 pm, so it’s beneficial to try and limit your direct exposure during this time. UV safety awareness isn’t just about what it does to your skin. Breaking up your time is also an excellent way to reduce your body temperature and avoid dehydration.
It’s best to make plans early or later in the day, but if it’s unavoidable, take advantage of shade wherever you find it, as often as possible. Sit under a shady tree or bring a big umbrella. Any bit of reprieve you can give yourself from the sun will go a long way to protecting your skin.
Hats are particularly helpful for keeping the sun from hitting your skin directly, but not all hats are equally effective. A wide brim hat, for example, will be your best option. Not only does it protect the top of your head, but your face, neck, and ears too. On the other hand, while baseball caps are great and worn by many, they only protect your face from the sun. So, you’ll still need to apply some sunscreen to other areas exposed on your head.
Sunglasses are an essential part of your summer wardrobe and overall eye care. They make it easier to see, shield your eyes from UV rays, and protect the delicate skin around them. Make sure you are wearing a pair with a UV400 rating. These will block out 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation.
When it comes to clothing, long-sleeve shirts and pants help to keep the UV rays away from your skin. Tightly woven fabrics in dark colors offer the most protection but aren’t the most comfortable option as darker colors tend to absorb the heat. Lightweight and light-colored fabrics don’t offer as much protection but will keep you cooler. In addition, some manufacturers make clothing and swimwear that offer various degrees of Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF).
Play it Smart
Keep UV safety awareness in mind and incorporate these tips into your next outdoor adventures and activities to ensure a fun and, most importantly, safe summer!