A good dose of sunlight is always healthy for the body, mind and spirit. Even though there are multiple benefits from being in the sunlight and participating in outdoor activities, there are also many risks that come with overexposure to too much sunlight. There are many schools of thought on how to best protect one’s skin from overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
With so many products to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is the best and how you can use it effectively. There are many options to prevent overexposure to UV rays and still maintain a healthy outdoor lifestyle.
Most people make the mistake of thinking that sunscreen acts as a shield that can protect their skin from UV rays. However, sunscreen merely acts as a filter. Even though sunscreen can protect you from some of the sun’s harmful rays, it should never be relied upon completely for protection from the sun. Sunscreens come in many forms: creams, balms, lotions, ointments, gels and even sprays. Some cosmetic products like make up and creams also have sunscreen as part of their ingredients.
When using a sunscreen, check the Sun Protection Factor (SPF). Most dermatologists recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 exposes a person for the equivalent to 1 minute of UV exposure to every 30 minutes he or she is in the sun.
If a person is in the sun for an hour, it is the same as having 2 minutes of full UV exposure. This is the case if the product is used properly. To use sunscreen properly, spread it evenly and regularly over exposed skin until the skin is completely covered. Many people forget to get areas like behind the ears, lips and around the eyes; but be very careful when applying sunscreen to these areas.
It is recommended that sunscreen be reapplied every 2 hours and more often if the person has been swimming or sweating. Broad spectrum sunscreens are the best as they protect from the most types of UV light.
Water resistant sunscreen
There is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen. The term waterproof is misleading and people often think that they are protected when wearing these products. Some sunscreens are water resistant. They will typically stay on the body for anywhere from 40-80 minutes and then will need to be reapplied. Waterproof sunscreen can also be used for more active people who are afraid that they will sweat off their sunscreen. Again, when using water resistant sunscreen, remember that it needs to be reapplied regularly.
Sunscreens are good for exposed skin, but the best all-around protection is still clothing. It is important to try to keep as much skin protected as possible. Hats, loose fitting clothes and skirts can also give some protection. However, even clothing cannot completely protect from the sun’s harmful rays. Tight knit, darker clothes give more protection than loose knit or lighter coloured clothes. There are some clothing items now out in the market that claim to have UV protection. It is best to do your research to see how effective they are before making a purchase.
The most important way to protect the skin from the sun’s UV rays is purely by prevention. Do not overexpose your skin to sunlight. If a person is going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, he or she should wear protective clothes and sunscreen. They certainly wouldn’t want more serious health issues in the future.[Photos by dodofront and taal]