Whilst as kids we sometimes disliked being lathered in sunscreen, wearing swim tops at the beach and rules like ‘no hat, no play’, later in life we come to realise the importance of sun safety and protection in our skin’s health.
Whether the sun is shining bright or it’s an overcast day, the sun’s UV rays are still present and exposure can have damaging effects on your skin and health. Daily sun protection and care is non-negotiable. It is essential for preventing both short and long term sun damage to our skin and skin cancer.
What Damage Can the Sun Do To Your Skin?
Sun damage is one of the fastest ways to cause our skin to age prematurely. Sun-damage can show up on our skin as age spots, dark spots, freckles, pigmentation, and yes a tan is sun damage too. A tan shows us that our skin has been exposed to too much UV as it stimulates the process of melanin which darkens the pigment to protect the skin from further damage. While we know immediately we’ve had too much sun and caused damage with our skin burning or tanning, it’s important to realise that sun damage can still occur without noticeable effects.
Long term effects to your skin can include fine-lines and wrinkles, dull and uneven skin tone, dry skin and reduced elasticity and firmness.
While the effects of sun damage are predominantly cosmetic, repeated sunburn and unprotected sun exposure increases your chance of developing various forms of skin cancer, which is why sun protection is so important.
Check your skin regularly for any changes. Make it a date, check thoroughly on the the last or first day of every month and if you notice any changes get your skin checked by a medical professional.
How to Protect Yourself From The Sun
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from sun and how to protect skin from sun damage.
1. Sunscreen Every Day! Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen every day, year-round even on those cloudy days! The UV rays on cloudy days can often be more dangerous as you’re not noticing the damage it’s causing. Apply 20-30 minutes before you first go out into the sun and re-apply every two hours, as well as after swimming, exercising, working or playing outdoors. Don’t forget to apply to overlooked areas such as the tops of your eyes, scalp, lips, hands and feet. Oh, and check the expiration date!
2. Wear protective clothing. Clothing that can cover up your skin to provide extra protection. Tightly woven fabrics are best, remember you can still wear loose fitting or breathable fabrics to ensure you don’t get too hot when the temperature rises. Keep in mind light colored fabrics tend to have less UV protection than others.
3. Accessorize. Wide brim hats that cover your eyes, ears, face and neck are ideal. Sunglasses that have UV protection can protect your eyes and the delicate skin around your eyes.
4. Find a Shady Spot. Sit under a tree or bring an umbrella or tent to the beach or park. Even when going out for lunch make sure to choose a shady spot. Just remember that these structures don’t provide complete protection and you should still wear sunscreen.
5. Avoid Peak Hours. The sun’s UV rays are the strongest between 10AM and 4PM. It’s best to limit direct exposure during this time as best you can. Reflective surfaces such as water, snow and sand can also enhance the damaging effects of the sun.
6. Monitor the UV Index. The UV Index predicts exposure levels of the sun on a particular day. Monitoring the UV Index can help you plan outdoor activities that help prevent overexposure. You can usually find the UV index indicated in your weather report.
Always drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, it’s beneficial for both your health and your skin.
We all love the sun but it’s important to stay safe, and remember that prevention is always better than cure.