Summer is a time for unplugging, getting outside, and enjoying things like golf, tennis, biking, hiking, picnicking, yard games, hammocking, attending concerts, and grilling out with friends. But if you’re going to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, make sure you’re protecting your skin and staying safe.
5 Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun
The sun isn’t necessarily any more dangerous to our bodies during the summer than any other time of year, but we do have to be more conscious of it. It’s typically hotter and there tend to be fewer clouds, but it’s mostly the fact that we spend more time outside that creates the need for greater protection. Here are some suggestions:
- Avoid Peak Hours
When possible, always avoid prolonged exposure to direct heat during peak sunlight hours (typically 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). This is when the sun is most intense and you face the greatest risk of sunburn. Instead, try to plan outdoor activities during the morning and late afternoon hours.
- Lather Up
Sunscreen isn’t something to apply sparingly or occasionally. While most people only think to use it when visiting the beach or pool, it’s important to wear it on a daily basis. It’s also smart to think about which type of sunscreen you’re wearing. Don’t automatically assume that higher SPF is always better.
“High-SPF sunscreens are made with higher concentrations of chemicals and some of these ingredients penetrating the skin in high doses may pose health risks, including tissue damage and hormone disruption,” HealthDesigns.net explains. “Sunscreen with values of 30-50 SPF will offer adequate sunburn protection if applied correctly, even for people most susceptible to sunburn.”
When purchasing sunscreen, look for products that are fragrance-free and don’t contain dangerous active ingredients or preservatives like methylisothiazolinone.
- Wear the Right Gear
In addition to sunscreen, be smart about what you wear. While it’s hot outside during the summer months, try to leave as little skin exposed as possible. Light, airy shirts and cover-ups are ideal. A hat can also provide significant protection for your face. And then there are sunglasses.
“Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of all UV rays. Your optician can help you choose the best sunglass lenses for your needs,” Dr. Gary Heiting says. “To protect as much of the delicate skin around your eyes as possible, try at least one pair of sunglasses with large lenses or a close-fitting wraparound style.”
- Seek Shade
If you’ll be outside for long periods of time, it’s not enough to wear the right gear. You also need to seek shade whenever possible.
If you’ll be somewhere without much sun coverage – like watching your son’s little league baseball game or attending a block party in the cul-de-sac – consider using an EZ up canopy to provide a little coverage. If a canopy or tent isn’t practical, an umbrella can serve the same purpose.
Most people make the critical mistake of not hydrating well enough during the summer. In doing so, they put their skin at increased risk of damage.
Make sure you drink the recommended eight to ten 8-ounce glasses or pure, filtered water each day. Not only does this help all of your muscles, joints, and organs function properly, but it also provides the proper moisture balance to protect your skin against the heat.
Get Outside and Enjoy the Sun
According to data gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93 percent of their life indoors (87 percent inside and 6 percent in automobiles). That means just 7 percent of the average day – or a little over 90 minutes – is spent outside.
While you may think you’re doing the right thing by staying inside and avoiding the sun, it’s actually not healthy or encouraged. Not only are pollutants higher inside than outside, but your body needs vitamin D from the sun (as well as the physical activity that typically comes with spending time outdoors).
Make it a point to get outside more this summer. And when you do get outside, be smart about how you protect your skin from the sun. In doing so, you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds!