Sun Safe Tips for Staying Healthy & Gorgeous in the Sun
by Christina Schneider, MPH
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that one American dies every hour from preventable melanomas. Long-term sun exposure damages your skin and leaves it discolored and wrinkled, so staying healthy and beautiful go hand in hand, especially when you’re outside around the garden or homestead. You don’t have to give up beach vacations or stay inside forever to prevent cancer and keep your skin looking great. Follow these four sun safe tips to protect yourself before heading outdoors.
Protect Your Eyes
You can’t get a sunburn on your eyes, but you can damage them permanently with too much sunlight. Plus, your eye region can get skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 5-10% of all skin cancers affect the eyelid. You don’t want to smear sunscreen on your eyelids because it can drip into your eyes and irritate them, but you can implement other sun safe tips to keep your peepers healthy. First, wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside. Choose shades that block UVA and UVB light. Second, wear a wide-brimmed hat that covers your entire forehead and eye area.
Choose a Hat
Hats do more than protect your eyes. They also shade your face and neck, the two most important areas to keep healthy for long-term beauty. Protecting your delicate facial skin from sunburns helps fight wrinkles, spotting, and other unsightly damage. If you prefer small-brimmed hats or ball caps, be sure to use sunscreen on the back of your neck, ears, and other exposed areas.
Wear Protective Clothing
Imagine a stereotypical desert dweller. Most people will conjure up a nomad with fully covered arms and legs underneath a long robe. Now think about what you normally wear to the beach or outside on a hot day; you probably show a lot more skin than your imaginary friend from the desert. Although it’s common to strip down when the weather heats up, you are doing long-term damage to your skin by not covering up. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you should protect yourself from UV rays by wearing long pants or skirts and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors. Synthetic materials like nylon, rayon, and acrylic provide the greatest levels of protection.
Even if you wear sunglasses, protective clothing, and a hat, you still need to use sunscreen to cover your exposed skin. Choose products with a sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 15 and reapply every 2 hours. If you’re going to push long sleeves up your arms, cover your forearms and the back of your hands with sunscreen, and be sure to cover your neck, chest, and back.
Whether you’re headed for a safari or just want to know how to make it through summer without a sunburn, these four sun safe tips will help keep you safe. If your friends or family make fun of your efforts to protect yourself, just remember that you’ll have the last laugh when they’re suffering through a sunburn and you’re not. By making smart decisions, you can keep your skin healthy and beautiful for years to come.