We now know that sun exposure can lead to photodamage, premature aging, and skin cancer including melanoma. And while many of us can’t wait to get outside and luxuriate in the breeze, and soak up the warmth of the sun, we need to do it wisely. To keep you safe this summer, we’ve compiled five essential tips for perfect sun protection.
GO WITH AN SPF 50. Sun protection factor or SPF refers to the amount of protection a sunscreen offers. But it’s highly individual. For example, with an SPF 50, a person who typically burns in 1 minute, will now have 50 minutes of protection before starting to redden. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s straight mathematics. There are various factors that influence how the sun affects us, including time of day, skin tone, genetics, cloud cover, and surface reflection. You need at least an SPF 30 to provide adequate protection, with SPF 50 blocking 98% of the sun’s rays.
MAKE SURE YOUR SPF DOES DOUBLE DUTY. Solar rays come in two forms, UVA and UVB. Most of the rays that reach the Earth’s surface are UVA – they represent 95% of the total. UVA is what causes a tan and is responsible for most photodamage, including hyperpigmentation and wrinkles It also causes a loss of skin elasticity by breaking down collagen and elastin. UVB on the other hand represents only 5% of the total and doesn’t penetrate as deeply as UVA. But don’t discount them. UVB rays cause mutations in the skin, which can lead to skin cancer, including melanoma. Go for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that shields from both types of rays, such as Vie de Mer Paris’ Anti-Aging Sunblock SPF 50, which contains 27% zinc and bisoctrizole to provide broad-spectrum protection.
APPLY AND REAPPLY. Many people think that sunscreen is a one and done, but the opposite is true. In general, sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours, especially if you’re sweating or in the water. The exception to this is when you’re indoors and not near windows. Remember that UVA penetrates glass so even if you’re indoors, the sun’s rays are still getting in. But if you’re away from windows you might not need to reapply. Keep in mind every trip outside to get the mail or go to the store counts to your total. That means even if you’re mostly inside, but go outside occasionally, you still need to reapply.]
ACCESSORIZE. It takes about a shot glass worth of sunscreen for the entire body to make sure it’s adequately protected. With a smaller amount, the SPF starts going down. But even if you’ve managed to use the right amount, some extra accessorizing helps to reduce risk. Loose fitting long sleeves and pants help to shield you from the sun, while keeping you cool in scorching temperatures, while sun hats protect your scalp and hair. And sunglasses with UV absorption lenses are a must, particularly because UVB rays cause cataracts.
CHECK YOUR SHADOW. The intensity of the sun changes based on the time of day, the cloud cover, and where you are. Remember that even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays are out there. And certain environments such as the beach increase sun exposure, with water helping to scatter and reflect the rays back. Sun’s rays are at their strongest between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. The good news is that your shadow is also a great guide to tell you when sun is at its zenith. If it’s shorter than you, then it’s time to hit the shade.