Brighter days are here, and many of us can’t wait to get outside and bask in the sunlight! To make sure this summer is your best one yet, it’s important to take adequate precautions when exposing yourself to the sun’s rays, even on cloudy days. Radiation from the sun is extremely powerful, and without protection you could be putting yourself at risk for skin damage and increasing your chances of developing skin cancer later on down the line. According to the CDC, it only takes 15 minutes in the sun for ultraviolet (UV) rays to damage skin.
With this in mind, here are four tips to help you enjoy the sun responsibly:
1. Check the UV index forecast
Before you head out for a day in the sun, you can prepare yourself by taking a look at NOAA’s UV Index forecast. Each day, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts and tracks UV radiation levels in the atmosphere that reach us on Earth’s surface. After assessing the UV radiation levels, the NOAA is able to forecast the potential for skin and eye damage in each state using a single digit number. A score ranging from zero to five typically means that there’s a low risk of damage from UV rays for those exposed to the sun. A score of six or higher, on the other hand, indicates that significant damage can occur in a short period of time when exposed to the sun. Keep in mind that UV light is often strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
2. Always wear sunscreen
Not only can UV rays penetrate clouds, but they can also reach below the water’s surface, making sunscreen a necessity for keeping your skin and body safe. Both UVA and UVB rays can increase your risk for skin cancer if exposed without protection. A broad-spectrum sunscreen is crucial since it protects against both these forms of radiation. Be sure to choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours or more often if you’re swimming, sweating or toweling off. Not sure which sunscreen is right for you? We highly recommend a medical-grade, broad-spectrum sunscreen, such as Environ® RAD Sunscreen SPF 30, which can be used on both the face and body to keep your skin safe.
3. Find some shade
Not only does shade offer you refuge from summer heat, it’s also one of the best ways to protect yourself from UV rays responsible for sun damage and skin cancer. Just like any other sun protection method, shade doesn’t offer total protection when used on its own, since UVB rays can strike indirectly by bouncing off UV-reflective surfaces like sand, water or concrete. It does, however, offer a thorough barrier against direct sun exposure. Bring an umbrella to make your own shade, or seek shade under a large tree or other structure that keeps out the sun’s rays.
4. Wear sunglasses and/or a hat
We all know sun exposure has an effect on our skin, but it’s important to know that UV radiation can also affect your eyes and your eyesight. Not all sunglasses are created equal — for adequate protection, be sure to choose sunglasses that offer 100% UVA- and UVB-absorbent protection, or UV 400. Be aware that dark-tinted sunglasses don’t necessarily offer substantial safety against the sun’s harmful rays. In fact, dark lenses that don’t have adequate UV protection may cause more damage than if you were to wear no sunglasses at all, because they cause the eye’s pupil to dilate which in turn increases exposure of the retina to unfiltered sunlight. A wide-brimmed hat can also act as a barrier against UV radiation, covering both your eyes and your face.