Summer Isn’t The Only Season for Sun Damage-Protect Yourself No Matter the Time of Year
You’re soaking up the last drops of summer while writing your back-to-school shopping list. In a matter of weeks, you’ll store away the swimsuits and bring out the backpacks. But don’t put away your sunscreen just yet.
“The sun is there 365 days a year—not just during the hot summer months,” says Kelly Lance, family nurse practitioner at La Belle Vie Medical Care and Aesthetics in Draper. “Most people don’t realize that UV rays are intense all year long. Wearing sunscreen throughout the year not only protects your skin from damaging skin cancers, it keeps you from aging prematurely.”
Knowing the right sunscreen for your skin is also important. Current research shows both UVA and UVB rays to be responsible for all sorts of damage, like aging skin, burns, skin cancers and wrinkles, to name a few. So pick a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection—this ensures you’ll be guarded against UVA and UVB rays.
Next, check your SPF, or sun protection factor. SPF indicates how long it will take for your skin to start reddening when using a sunscreen compared to how long it would take without the product. So if you’re using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, it’ll take you 15 times longer to redden than if you went without sunscreen. An SPF 15 sunscreen will protect against 93 percent of the sun’s rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps you safe from 98 percent.
“Always use SPF 50 on your face and neck,” Lance says. “A high quality sunscreen made by SkinCeuticals or Obagi is best. Your provider can help you select the best sunscreen for your skin type. A water resistant sunscreen for the rest of your body is good for activities where you’ll be swimming or seeing increased activity in the sun. Even on cloudy days, your skin is subject to the sun’s rays.”
Once you’ve found the right sunscreen for you, be liberal in your application of it. As you make the most of the outdoors during the warm weather, reapply your sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating. You can also protect yourself in other ways, like seeking the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., covering up with clothing (think broad-rimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses), and always avoiding tanning booths.
And no matter what your sunscreen habits have been in the past, making a change now will bring benefits for your future.
“If you have a history of skin cancer in your family, protecting your skin is of the utmost importance,” Lance says. “To prevent premature aging, sunscreen is of the utmost importance. No one wants wrinkles—we pay a lot of money to get rid of them! Maintaining your skin care routine and always using sunscreen will help keep your skin from getting that aged, saggy, leathery look.”