Limit exposure to the sun
This is where prevention starts. If possible, avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day, between 10 AM – 4 PM, regardless of the season. This is when the sun’s rays are the hottest, and the risk for sun damage is at its highest. Stay inside during these hours and you’ll reduce your exposure to harmful rays.
Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing
Notice the word “Always”. I cannot emphasize this enough! However, the SPF rating (sun protection factor) is just as important! The SPF number rates the effectiveness in blocking UV rays, and the higher the number the more protection it offers. Sure, you can find articles saying that an SPF 15 is all you need…but, in my opinion, you should be wearing at least an SPF 30 on your skin any time you’re thinking about going outside. This means every day! Better safe than sorry, don’t you think?
Curious about the sun exposure’s effect on skin? Here are a few facts.
- An estimated 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun.2
- People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily.2
- Sun damage is cumulative. Only about 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 182
- About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.2
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.2
- The World Health Organization estimates that more than 65,000 people a year worldwide die from melanoma.3
With statistics like these, is protecting the largest organ on your body even up for debate?
Do you pass on sunscreen when it’s cloudy or overcast? Don’t be fooled. The sun may not be visible, but its rays are still dangerous. Harmful rays can penetrate cloud cover and soak into your skin.
After applying sunscreen, make sure you also wear protective clothing outdoors. Sunglasses protect the eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays, and a brimmed hat protects your face and neck. Going to the beach or pool? Sit under an umbrella instead of directly in the sun’s rays. Combining these items with sunscreen will give you as much protection as possible while you’re out in the sun.
If you have concerns regarding the safety of sunscreen, look for these options when choosing sun protection. The ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide receive high ratings due to their ability to provide strong protection with few health concerns. They also don’t break down in the heat, and offer protection from UVA rays.1 Broad spectrum sunscreens help protect against both UVA and UBA rays. Finally, look for water-resistant formulas. While no sunscreen is waterproof, a water-resistant formula will prevent it from running off when you sweat. If you are outdoors often and for long periods of time, you should probably think of applying an SPF of 45 or higher, and reapplying it every 45 minutes.
Detox and nourish your skin
All right, so we’ve talked about how to prevent sun damage during your time outdoors. Now, what about renewing and protecting your skin INDOORS?
You can help your skin before sun exposure by eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. These help improve your complexion and nourish your skin from the inside. Tomatoes, berries, oranges and avocados aid in nutrient absorption, help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and provide high levels of antioxidants which help protect your skin from environmental damage.
Another way to detox your skin is to hydrate it properly. Drink water that is filtered so you aren’t ingesting any chemicals. No, I am not saying go buy bottled water, but you can get a reasonably priced faucet filter.
Be diligent about your skincare and makeup routine. Use products that have anti-aging properties and contain antioxidants. The anti-aging ingredients will start working long before sun exposure to renew your skin from the inside out, while antioxidants will protect against outdoor pollution and free radicals. Moisturizers and cosmetics often contain SPF in the formulation. By applying these in the morning, you are able to get a jump start on your first application of SPF. Remember that for prolonged exposure to the sun, you should reapply every 45 minutes.
Of course, this isn’t a complete list of ways to protect your skin from sun damage, but it’s a great place to start! I want us all to practice safe sun care and continue to live a life of Whole Health.
How do you take care of your skin? Are there other ways you protect your skin from the harsh environment?