A Guide to SPF and Sun Protection
It’s happened before. You’re outside with friends – perhaps a spontaneous barbeque, baseball game or local festival. Whatever the circumstance, you forgot something and perhaps an hour or so later, you begin feeling warm and uncomfortable. Right, sunscreen.
Being social and spending time with friends and family outside is one of the highlights of summer, but it doesn’t need to be permanently etched on your skin because of sun damage.
Outside? Better Abide.
A little bit of knowledge goes a long way with sun protection. The most important thing to know is that if you plan to spend any time outside, you need to protect yourself. Whether it’s overcast or sunny, the sun’s rays are damaging and can hurt your skin. If you’re spending the day out and about, know the sun is strongest between 10 am and 2 pm. If you can find shade during this time, you should.
Keep in mind the following facts as well:
- You should apply sunscreen even where you’re covered. Not all fabric is woven tightly and UV protection is not always applied to clothing, so it can allow in UV rays. It’s worth the extra precaution to apply sunscreen all over your body before dressing.
- Broad spectrum is better. It means the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Also, buy SPF 30 or higher.
- No sunscreen is truly waterproof. So reapply every two hours.
- SPF in makeup isn’t enough. Many foundations and tinted moisturizers have SPF properties, but not a large enough amount to provide adequate protection from the sun’s rays. Apply a layer of sunscreen before applying makeup and don’t forget to reapply again two hours later.
- Breakouts are no excuse. If you have sensitive skin and are worried about skin breakouts, look for a sunscreen labeled “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic,” which means it won’t block your pores.
- There are better sources of vitamin D. Jump starting your vitamin D by sitting outside on a sunny day can make you feel better, but it’s important to remember that sun exposure should be done in moderation – and with protection. Many physicians recommend getting vitamin D through food and supplements rather than through the sun in order to avoid its damaging effects. Talk with your physician on whether you should add this supplement to your daily regimen.
- Your lips can get sunburned, too. Apply a lip balm or lipstick with SPF 30 or higher.
- Sun exposure inside a car is equivalent to being outside. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on long drives and, if possible, apply a transparent window film to your car’s windows to block UVA and UVB rays. Furthermore, sunroofs directly expose you to the sun, so wear a hat if you roll it back.
What Are the Different Types of Sun Protection?
Sunscreen is the most prevalent form of sun protection. If you’re unsure what type of sunscreen to wear, think of how and where you’re going to apply it:
Clothing and Sunglasses
- Creams are best for dry skin and the face.
- Gels are good for hairy areas.
- Sticks are good to use around the eyes, but they can be irritating and cause stinging and blurry vision.
- Sprays are a popular choice because they’re easy to apply. You should always spray into your hand and apply to the sunscreen to the neck and above to avoid any irritation. Make sure to use enough of these products to thoroughly cover all exposed skin.
- Wear protective clothing, if long-sleeved shirts or pants just aren’t doable and opt for light-colored and light-weight clothing that blocks UV rays.
- Add a hat to your look – the wider the brim the better – to protect your scalp and shield your face.
- Sunglasses also offer sun protection. You want to look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays and that also absorb most HEV rays. HEV, or high-energy visible light, has been shown to cause some forms of vision loss. Although polarized lenses do reduce glare, they don’t replace UV protection.
- Finding shade instead of sitting in the sun is smart. Equally smart is remembering that just because it’s shady, doesn’t mean you’re not getting rays. UVB rays can reach your skin indirectly, so you still want to keep your defenses up.
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