Whatever your summertime plans are, one thing’s for sure, you’re going to be in the sun. While it warms us up and sets the tone for a fun day, the summer sun can pose serious risks for your health without proper protection. Read on for easy tips to incorporate in your summer routine from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.
Why staying safe in the summer sun is important
Did you know skin cancer is the most common form of cancer? According to the Cleveland Clinic, nearly one in five people will develop skin cancer in their life. The main culprit is exposure to UV rays from the sun, tanning beds or sunlamps.
Almost all skin cancers can be cured if detected early, so it’s incredibly important to make regular appointments with your dermatologist.
Sun damage doesn’t discriminate either—the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) reports anyone can get skin cancer regardless of age, skin tone or gender.
Besides skin cancer, sun exposure can also cause unwelcome symptoms like premature aging, including wrinkles and age spots, and changes in your skin texture.
Do your skin a favor and make these expert tips a part of your lifestyle.
1. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
It’s obvious to put on sunscreen when you’re going to the beach or the pool, but it should be a key component in your daily routine. Consider it your secret weapon for youthful, healthy skin.
Not just any sunscreen, either. The AAD recommends you look for broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF or higher.
Make sure to apply generously (seriously, use more than you think you need) about 15 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours—more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
PS… I know we all have those ancient bottles of sunscreen at the bottom of our sandy beach bags. Keep in mind that the FDA requires sunscreen to maintain full strength for three years; after that, it may be less effective.
2. Cover up in the summer sun
We get it. In the blazing heat, the last thing you want to do is add layers. However, long-sleeve shirts and pants can provide extra protection from damaging sun rays. Opt for larger sizes if you want a more breathable fit and look for light and breezy fabrics like linen.
Plus, hats and sunglasses are more than cool accessories. Grab a broad-brimmed hat and pair of sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays for extra protection.
3. Seek the shade
I don’t know about you, but when I’m out in the sun I’m basically a heat seeking missile for shady spots.
From using an umbrella to picnicking under a tree, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable in the summer sun when seeking out shade.
Just because you’re blocked from the sun doesn’t mean you skip out on the sunscreen.
Internist and geriatrician Dr. Ginnie Prater, who also serves as a Medical Director for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, explains that even in the shade, sunscreen is key to keeping your skin safe.
“A common misconception is that you can’t get a sunburn in the shade or if you are outside on an overcast day. Those sun rays will still get to your skin and cause damage without protection. Another common misconception is that we need to spend a lot of time in the sun without wearing sunscreen to get enough vitamin D.
Your skin can produce vitamin D from the sun even if you are in the shade, and you only need about 10 minutes per day in the sun with hands, face, neck and arms exposed without sunscreen to produce enough vitamin D. As we age, our skin becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D from the sun AND our risk of developing skin cancer increases, so for older adults, wearing sunscreen is recommended.”Dr. Ginnie Prater, Medical Director, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
4. Stay hydrated in the summer sun
Before you reach for a soda in your cooler, think about what your body needs the most.
It should go without saying, but staying hydrated is especially important during summer, and has a direct correlation to the health of your skin.
According to Mayo Clinic, drinking plenty of fluids will help keep your body hydrated so you can sweat and maintain the correct body temperature in the heat.
If you haven’t already, invest in a reusable water bottle for the summer and keep it with you whenever you can. It’s better for the environment and certain styles can even keep your water ice cold and refreshing all day long.
5. Stick to a schedule
Think again before plotting your day laying out in the sun around a high UV index. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but the CDC says there’s no such thing as a healthy tan.
Whenever possible, avoid spending time outdoors when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
The US Environmental Protection Agency says sun rays are the strongest between 10AM and 4PM. There’s plenty of light to enjoy in the morning and evening, but with less risk to your health. Plus, who doesn’t love sunrise and sunset views?
See more skin protection tips here.