Safe, Smart Fun in the Sun

June 25, 2017

One of the benefits of the sun's rays is your skin produces vitamin D naturally when you are in the sun. Natural vitamin D production depends on many things, including age, skin tone, and how strong the sunlight is where you are.  If you have a light skin tone, it’s better for you to get vitamin D from your diet or vitamin supplements rather than from sun exposure because dietary sources and vitamin supplements do not increase skin cancer risk, and are typically more reliable ways to get the amount you need. If your skin is not prone to sunburn, you can enjoy the health benefits of the sun's direct rays anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes on your arms, hands, and face two to three times a week to received the vitamin D-boosting benefits of sun. (Note that the sun actually has to penetrate the skin but exposure should be a maximum of 15 minutes before applying sunscreen to prevent damage to your skin.)

 

Another benefit of basking in the sunshine is studies have shown sunlight increases the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Without enough sunlight exposure, a person’s serotonin levels can dip low. Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of depression.  But, to receive the brain boosting benefits of sunlight, you don't have to be directly exposed to the rays - you only need to be outdoors when the sun is shining.

 

While there are lots of great reasons to get out into the sun, remember the ultraviolet rays of sunshine can damage your skin even in cool temperatures.  When summertime arrives we all find ourselves exposed to the sun more frequently.   Summer is a time for outdoor activity with family and friends, swimming, sunbathing and generally enjoying the uplifting weather. But, remember the sun's ultraviolet rays can damage your skin after 15 minutes of direct exposure.

 

 

Here are some key things to remember to protect your skin from the damage of ultraviolet rays:

  1. Seek Shade! Reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by enjoying the outdoors under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter before you need relief from the sun.

  2. Dress Wisely.  In warm weather, we don't want to be fully clothed because it will look and feel uncomfortable.  But, there are fashions made specifically to have a summertime style while still offering full protection. Companies like UV Skinz, Coolibar and others offer stylish fashion alternatives that can be worn comfortably in hot weather conditions.  For help picking the best UV Protective wear for you and your loved ones, visit this website to learn more.

  3. Wear a large brimmed hat. For the best protection, choose a hat with a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. A darker hat may offer more UV protection. And, if you wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

  4. UV Rays can also harm your eyes - WEAR SUNGLASSES!  Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side. When purchasing sunglasses, be sure to read the label to ensure they offer a high level of protection from UV rays.

  5. USE SUNSCREEN! Even though you've heard this enough times to make it forgettable, I'm

    reminding you again and here's why: Most sunscreen products work by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering sunlight. They contain chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays. Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Sunscreen products can only be labeled “broad spectrum” if they have been tested and shown to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Only broad spectrum sunscreen products with an SPF of 15 or higher can state that they help protect against skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures. Sunscreens labeled with SPFs as high as 100+ are available. Higher numbers do mean more protection, but many people don’t understand the SPF scale. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. The higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes.

    Other important facts about sunscreen are:

    Check the expiration date on the sunscreen to be sure it’s still effective. Most sunscreen products are good for at least 2 to 3 years, but you may need to shake the bottle to remix the sunscreen ingredients. Sunscreens that have been exposed to heat for long periods, such as if they were kept in a glove box or car trunk through the summer, may be less effective.

    Always follow the label directions. Most recommend applying sunscreen generously. When putting it on, pay close attention to your face, ears, neck, arms, and any other areas not covered by clothing. If you’re going to wear insect repellent or makeup, put the sunscreen on first.

    Sunscreens are no longer allowed to be labeled as “waterproof” or “sweatproof” because these terms can be misleading. Sunscreens can claim to be “water resistant,” but they have to state whether they protect the skin for 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, based on testing.

    Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

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