We’re all guilty. The sun is shinning, the water feels great, and that over priced frozen margarita in hand feels even better. There’s something missing, though: protection. Is it because we’re lazy? Is it because society pegs all golden bronzed humans as “attractive”? Or are we all hoping to acquire an unfortunate disease well known to many (and by many, I mean roughly 5.4 million cases in the U.S. alone), skin cancer. As I’m sitting here in Starbucks typing away, I’m referring my information from an article on skincancer.org. The page states that one person dies from melanoma every hour. Even more scary, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in a lifetime. I’m looking around, and I’m realizing that out of the five of us coffee drinking, blog writing, newspaper reading, innocent human beings…one of us could be the unlucky “one”!
Okay, enough negative statistics for one day. I don’t want to scare anyone away, and our goal here isn’t to strictly enforce indoor festivities only. There’s a whole world out there to see! Let’s find out how we can enjoy the sun while maintaining healthy, beautiful skin.
1. Keep it shady, baby. This might be the least protective option, but anything helps. Take an umbrella to the beach, find a few trees to hang by, or chill on a patio for a while. Just keep in mind that you are not completely protected in the shade. UVB rays can still reach the skin indirectly.
Myth: Base/fake tans help protect against sunburn.
FALSE. I think we just like to use this excuse to purchase tanning packages before vacation. Tan skin is a sign of already damaged skin, not prevention to future sun exposure. Pale or dark, you are still at risk.
2. Stay hydrated! You can do this by drinking lots of water daily. Many people believe that taking long baths/showers or spending the majority of the time in the pool will also help their skin. Long exposure actually dries out the skin. Consider cutting back on the time spent swimming and even showering. You’ll kill two birds with one stone by properly hydrating the skin and lowering your water bill!
Myth: We need sun to get enough vitamin D.
Also FALSE. Actually, if your skin kept producing vitamin D in response to sunlight, it could reach toxic levels. Try intaking vitamin D the healthy way by maintaining a good diet and taking supplements.
3. Wear it, rock it, and prevent. Remember that stylish hat you bought online a year ago that’s been taking up space in your closet? Now you have a reason to wear it! Throwing on a hat will help you protect the most forgotten areas like the top of your head and ears, and the back of your neck. Pick up a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses to also help prevent those unwanted wrinkles around the eyes. When it comes to the rest of your body, you don’t have to bundle up like you’re about ready to hit the slopes. Simply find something light and airy, like a loose fitting t-shirt or flowy cover-up.
Myth: Water and sand increase UV radiation.
TRUE. Both of these surfaces are highly reflective, increasing the exposure by at least 25%. Increased exposure should mean increased protection!
4. Most importantly, apply sunscreen! It’s recommended to grab a bottle of SPF 30 or higher. This doesn’t mean that you’re not going to catch a tan. It just happens more gradually this way, and will help to prevent burning. Keep in mind that it’s extremely important to always re-apply. The filters in sunscreen can only absorb certain amounts of radiation before they can’t absorb anymore. Most skin protection websites suggest application every two hours, and more if you are swimming/sweating profusely. Lastly, check the date on your bottle. Sunscreens do expire, and they will not protect your skin in that case. Most last about three years. Do your skin a favor, and toss out that bottle that’s been sitting in the back of your cabinet.