The Sun and Your Skin


What you don’t know will hurt you.

Protecting your skin from the sun is now more important than ever. You’ve heard that sun exposure can cause skin cancer and premature aging, and are probably well aware that you should be applying sunscreen and wearing hats when outdoors. This is a good start for sun safety, but there is still much more that you need to know. Below are a few sun safety facts that will give you the knowledge you need to protect yourself.

  • Not all sunscreens are created equal. Even if a sunscreen has an SPF of 30, if it doesn’t say broad-spectrum, it doesn’t have all the protection that you need. Regular sunscreens only provide protection against UVB rays, which affect the top layers of the skin and are responsible for burning. Broad-spectrum sunscreen has UVB protection and also protects against UVA rays that have longer lasting effects, discreetly penetrating deep into the skin causing wrinkles, sun spots and other signs of aging. Thus, you should always choose broad-spectrum sunscreen and apply it liberally about half an hour before going out in the sun.
  • It’s not just your skin that needs protection. Your eyes and lips also need shielding when you are outdoors, be it summer or winter. Wearing sunglasses with UV protection will help prevent cataracts, macular degeneration and retinal damage. Consider using wraparound lenses to prevent UV exposure from the side of your eyes. AS for your lips try to get a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15.
  • UV rays penetrate certain types of clothes. As a general rule most t-shirts and cotton fabrics are looser weaves and thus allow UV rays to pass through to the skin. This means that you need to either put sunscreen underneath your clothes, or choose more tightly woven fabrics such as denims or linen which block more sunlight.

Remember that even if you don’t burn, you still need to wear sunscreen. Contrary to popular belief, a tan is not healthy, and you are still susceptible to premature aging and cancer from sun exposure. All it takes is a couple of burns and your chances of getting skin cancer increase tremendously. Protecting yourself from the sun could prevent as much as 80% of all skin cancers, so do yourself a favor and practice these sun safety tips!

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