Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How to Have Fun in the Sun - The Safe Way

I must admit that one of my favorite things to do in the summer is sitting outside and reading a book, listing to music, and just plain laying around soaking up the sun. Because there are so many risks involved with extreme sun exposure I always take the utmost caution to protect my skin and body.

  • You should NEVER experience prolonged sun exposure without applying sunscreen. If you have skin that burns easily, or you are in an area closer to the Equator (more direct UV rays hit closer to the center of the world) I would recommend a SPF 45 or higher. My skin does not burn easily and I am in New York so I use SPF 35. SPF stands for "sun protection factor" and it is measured by the combination of chemicals in the lotion. The higher the SPF number the more UV rays are absorbed or reflected by the lotion before it hits your skin, aka, the longer you can be outside before you burn. UV-A rays are the ones that penetrate deep into your skin and lead to skin cancer and other diseases whereas UV-B rays are the ones that penetrate the surface and cause tanning. SPF only applies to UV-B rays, so always check that your sunscreen has protection against UV-A rays also! 
  • Apply your sunscreen 15-30 minutes before you plan on going outside and reapply after sweating and swimming. I use Banana Boat's Sport Sunscreen. Once I go outside I will apply Banana Boat's Protective Tanning Oil. (Note that when you layer SPF you get the average of the SPFs combined. Thus, SPF 35 sunscreen and SPF 15 tanning oil becomes SPF 25). 
  • Don't forget your lips and face! This skin is very sensitive and thin so take extra precaution! Most facial moisturizers have built in SPF. For example, I always apply Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer which has SPF 15. My foundation has SPF 6, and my face powder has SPF 15. If I do not have a full face of makeup on I will put the sunscreen on my face, luckily my skin is not sensitive and does not break out. On my lips I use Palmers Swivel Stick with SPF 30. 
  • Protect your hair! There are many products out there you can apply and then provide protection for your hair from UV rays, but I choose to wear a cute sun hat instead. This also provides extra protection to my face and eyes which can never be a bad thing.
  • Never look directly at the sun! We were always told this as kids and it still applies now. Most, if not all, sunglasses on the market provide UV-A and UV-B protection. Check to make sure your sunglasses do in order to avoid cataracts, cancer within your eyelids and eye area, and macualr degeneration. 
  • Drink drink DRINK! Summer weather is hot and dry. Even if there is a breeze and you don't feel sweaty your body is still loosing moisture and you can get dehydrated very fast. Always keep a bottle of water by your side. I fill up my Nalgene bottle and try to drink the whole thing every hour or so that I'm outside. On a day where you are outside a lot and active drink a gallon of water (double of the recommended 32 ounces in a day). 
  • And lastly, have fun! Summer is one of the most carefree times of the year, so enjoy it! Taking these simple precautions can prevent many diseases at a later age so you can have many more healthy summers to come.
*Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert on any of this information. All the information I have shared is what I have learned over the years by my own research to protect my body. I hope you find it helpful :)

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