Everyone loves a summer outside, but did you know that your fun in the sun could be hurting you? The sun emits UVA and UVB rays, both of which can cause cancer with excessive exposure. Luckily, you don’t have to live like a vampire to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays. Here are six tips to help you protect yourself without sacrificing your sun-soaked afternoons.
Stay covered in the shade
If you must go outside, you can avoid UV exposure by seeking shade and staying out of direct sunlight. It doesn’t take much effort to cover yourself, either with protective clothing or under a tree or other shade source. If you know you are going somewhere with little shade, like the beach, bring a big umbrella so you can enjoy your vacation without hurting your skin and eyes.
Remember that UV rays can reflect off of sand, water, and snow. If you bring an umbrella to the beach, remember to sit on a towel or blanket for further protection from the reflective UV rays.
Ensure your contact lenses meet Class 1 UV-blockers specification
UV rays can also damage your eyes. You can’t put sunscreen on your eyes, but you can protect them with UV-blocking contacts and sunglasses. UV rays can speed up eye-health problems like cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis.
To protect your eyes while wearing contact lenses, be sure they include Class 1 UV-blocking protection. These lenses block all UVB rays and 96% of UVA rays. One of the best choices for Class 1 UV protection is the Acuvue Oasys brand from retailers like 1800 Contacts (https://www.1800contacts.com/), as they come standard with built-in UV protection at no additional cost.
Wear your sunglasses every time you go outside
Since the skin around your eyes is thinner than other areas of the body, it’s especially vulnerable to sun damage. Sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays can help you avoid damaging your eyes and the skin surrounding them.
When buying sunglasses, look for labels like “UV absorption to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV requirements.” These industry labels show that the glasses block almost all UV rays. Sunglasses without those labels do not provide UV protection, while those labeled as “cosmetic” will protect you from around 70% of UV rays.
For more safeguarding, consider buying sunglasses with large frames or with thick wrap-around frames. These cover more skin and block sun rays from different angles.
Remember that children also need sun protection for their eyes. Cheap toy glasses usually don’t provide much protection from UV rays, so remember to look for the proper labels when shopping for eyewear.
Put on a hat with a large brim
Since shade offers reliable protection from UV rays, you can use a hat as a make-shift shade for your head. Hats with large brims can provide shade cover for faces, ears, noses, scalps, and neck napes, especially if the brim has a dark underside.
When shopping for a shade hat, look for those with at least a two-inch brim. You can make your own shade cap by wearing a bandana or scarf under a baseball cap. Let the scarf fabric cover your ears and the back of your neck to prevent sun damage. Try mixing and matching patterns and colors to make your shade cover into a fashion statement.
Wear long sleeves and pants when in the sun
Another way to carry shade with you is to wear long clothing while in the sun. Long-sleeved shirts and long bottoms will protect your skin from direct sunlight, especially if the colors are dark. Most importantly, the clothing you wear should be made of tightly woven fabric. If you’re unsure, test your material against a light bulb. If you can see the light through your fabric, UV rays can get through it, too.
Some manufacturers include the fabric’s UPF value to clothing tags. If you are wearing clothing for sun protection, look for UPF values of 15 and up. The higher the number, the higher the protection rating.
Apply the appropriate type of sunscreen
Along with other precautions, wearing sunscreen every day can help you avoid UV ray damage. Sunscreen filters the rays but does not block them all. So, combining sunscreen with sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing is the best defense possible. Your lips also need sunscreen, so don’t forget to apply lip balm with at least an SPF rating of 30 or more.
Your sunscreen should protect against UVA and UVB rays and have a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of 30 or more. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with zinc oxide, avobenzone, and titanium dioxide to protect against UVA and UVB rays.
Apply your sunscreen all over your body, especially your face, ears, neck, and other commonly exposed areas. If you are wearing sandals, cover the tops of your feet. Make sunscreen part of your daily morning skin-care routine, putting it on before you apply makeup.
With a few easy, precautionary steps, you can protect yourself from developing skin cancer. Spend your outdoor time in the shade, wear your sunglasses, and always apply an ample amount of sunscreen.