Tips to Protect Yourself from the Sun

woman wearing a big summer hat with her eyes closed and hand holding both edges of the summer hat to protect her from the heat

The sun is the source of life on earth. Without it, we would not be able to exist. In addition, the sun provides vitamins for our foods and is more an invaluable resource. However, too much exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer or premature aging of your skin.

This article will outline how you can protect yourself from these consequences by taking precautions when outside during peak hours between 10 am-4 pm and wearing sunscreen with SPF 30+.


What is Sun Damage and How Does it Happen?

Sun damage is a form of skin damage. You can get skin damage by overexposure to the sun’s UV rays, and sunburns are the common symptoms of sun damage. Other symptoms may include aging and freckles on the skin and wrinkles, lines, patches, and dark spots.

When you expose your skin to excessive sunlight, chemical reactions can cause damage to cells in the epidermis layer of your skin. For example, the UV rays from the sun can cause specific molecules in these cells to react with oxygen and create a harmful type of molecule called singlet oxygen.

Singlet oxygen kills nearby cells by disrupting their ability to form energy and replicate other vital molecules that they need to survive and maintain healthy cell function. This disruption of normal cell processes can cause sunburns, damage cells, causing them to become mutated and cancerous (causing skin cancers), and damage your DNA.


How to protect your skin from the sun

Our skin is the body’s largest organ and, as such, needs to be protected like any other part of our bodies. We are exposed to many dangerous agents in our environment every day, but none show themselves as plainly as the sun’s powerful UVA and UVB rays. Exposure to these rays not only can cause burns, wrinkles and patches on the skin, but it also causes premature aging and potentially cancerous changes on your skin cells.

There are many ways to protect your skin from sun damage, including:

  • donning sunscreen with a high SPF value,
  • wearing clothing that covers your skin
  • applying wide-brimmed hats or hats with tints on them
  • seeking shade whenever possible
  • staying hydrated all the time
  • avoiding prolonged exposure to the heat.


Use Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an effective method for protecting your skin from sun damage because it helps repel or reflect the UV rays before they can penetrate your skin. It generally comes in two forms: chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen. Physical sunscreen relies on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to reflect the sun’s rays away from you.

In contrast, chemical sunscreen contains ingredients like oxybenzone, octisalate, homosalate, and avobenzone. This helps them become less damaging. In addition to SPF (sun protection factor), which measures how the sunscreen will block much UV exposure on your skin, many other factors should be considered when choosing a sunscreen.

For example, some SPF measurements only measure UVB rays while others also measure UVA rays. Therefore, it is essential to find an adequate balance between the efficacy of the sunscreen in blocking sun damage and its ability to not leave behind harmful chemicals when applied to your skin.


Wear Clothing that Blocks the Sun’s rays

Wearing clothing with a high UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) helps protect your skin from various sun damage by blocking most of the UVB rays as well as some UVA rays from reaching your skin. This is especially important when you are in an environment where you may not reapply sunscreen often, such as hiking, surfing or swimming.

Wearing clothing with the right UPF rating can provide significant protection against sun damage.


Seek Shade When Possible

Seeking shade whenever possible is a simple way to prevent much of the sun’s damaging rays from reaching your skin and causing it to burn, wrinkle or age prematurely. This is particularly relevant in environments where you would be unable to use sunscreen, such as while swimming or on a boat.

When exposed to the sun, it is best to seek shade whenever possible.


Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated helps your skin because when you are well-hydrated, your skin can hold on to more of its water content and thus resist damage from drying agents such as sunscreen or saltwater that may dehydrate it over time.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.


Use Wide-brimmed Hats with Tints

Another excellent method for protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is to wear a wide-brimmed sunhat that has tints on it, such as those used in putting greens and carpets. These tints help block up to 95% of the sun’s rays and are especially helpful when you may not be able to reapply sunscreen on an ongoing basis.

When exposed to the sun, wearing a hat with tints is one way to protect your skin from harmful rays.


Avoid Prolonged Exposure

Prolonged exposure to the sun without protection is detrimental to your skin health. This includes exposure while swimming, staying in the sun for long periods or driving with the windows open and unprotected from harmful UV rays.

Keeping all of these tips in mind will help you protect your skin from harmful UV rays and potentially decrease your risk of sun cancer or prematurely-aging skin cells. In addition to these tips, it is essential to remember that sun damage accumulates over time, and so the longer you expose your skin to harmful UV rays, the more likely it is to cause wrinkles or age spots in your skin.


Keep Your Skin Healthy and Safe!

As you can see, there are many ways to protect your skin from the sun. By following these tips, taking enough vitamins for your skin, and taking care of yourself in other ways, you will be able to decrease your risk for skin cancer and premature aging by limiting the amount of time you spend exposed to harmful UV rays. Keeping all of this information in mind is crucial if you want to stay healthy inside and out!

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