Sun exposure is unavoidable. We live in a beautiful world that we would be foolish not to appreciate and explore. Unfortunately, experiencing sun exposure with little or no protection can damage the skin and lead to increased signs of aging, discoloration, sun damage, and skin cancer. Here are 5 easy, dermatologist-recommended tips you can follow to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, while also protecting your skin and your health.
1. Wear Your Sunscreen—the Right Way
It is true that any effort towards wearing sunscreen is better than nothing. There are guidelines that should be followed to ensure higher levels of sun protection. Our dermatology providers recommend wearing a product with an SPF of 30 or higher. Anything above SPF 30 is good, but the level of protection does not get substantially better as the number is increased.
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure—if you are wearing a chemical blocker—and be sure to reapply every 2 hours while you are outdoors. We recommend applying sunscreen before you put your clothes on–do not wait until you are already in the sun.
There are two categories of sunscreen: chemical and physical blockers.
Physical blockers include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These physical blockers work by deflecting the sun’s rays. Chemical blockers are the most common types of sunscreens. Chemical blockers contain a range of ingredients and work by absorbing the sun’s rays. Physical blockers are often less irritating on the skin and begin working immediately after application.
2. Dress to protect—Wear sun protective clothing, wide-brim hats, and sunglasses
Many popular brands these days are making clothing with UV protection built In to the material. Examples of brands that offer SPF protective clothing: Patagonia, The North Face, LL Bean, Under Armour, and Solumbra—just to name a few. Clothing with built in UV protection are a great option to save time spent applying sunscreen.
If you are having fun outdoors, you do not need to worry about reapplying every few hours. Wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection is a great idea, as skin cancer can occur on the eyelids and in the eyes. Our eyesight is a gift and priceless—protect yourself. We are lucky to live in a time where many popular outdoor brands are offering sun protective clothing; take advantage of it! Don’t be afraid to double up by wearing both sunscreen and sun protective clothing.
3. Take Notice of Your Environment
Here in Minnesota, with over 10,000 lakes and many months of snow each year, it is almost impossible to avoid snow and water. Be extra cautious of sun exposure when spending time around snow, water, sand , concrete, and pavement. The sunlight is hitting your skin directly and also reflecting off these surfaces onto your skin—amplifying the intensity. If you are swimming in water, be sure to wear water-resistant sunscreen and reapply more frequently. Enjoy the beauty of nature and all that our beautiful planet has too offer, just be sure to protect your skin at the same time.
4. Protect Your Skin From Within
Certain supplements contain powerful ingredients that can work to protect your body from sun damage. Heliocare is a supplement we recommend at Advanced Dermatology Care. Heliocare is derived from the Polypodium leucotomos fern plant. The antioxidants in Heliocare help your skin protect itself from free radicals in the environment. The brand Murad has a product called Pomphenol Sunguard Dietary Supplement which contains pomegranate extract. Pomegranate extract is rich in antioxidants that help fight free radicals–much like the ingredients in Heliocare. There are many other brands that offer supplements designed to protect your skin from environmental toxins and free radicals, as well. Eating an antioxidant rich diet is an excellent way to promote healthy and youthful looking skin.
5. Avoid peak hours of the day
Try to avoid direct sun exposure between 10am-4pm. People are more prone to sun damage during this time because the UV rays are very intense. Try to make an effort to plan your activities around these peak sun hours. Go for an early morning run or a relaxing sunset stroll along the water. Luckily, the early morning and golden hours of the day happen to be some of the most beautiful.