7 Sun Safety Habits You Should Start Implementing Today
We’ve all been reminded our whole lives to use sunscreen. Even though we might not have always understood when we were younger, new research continues to surface shedding light on the importance of protecting yourself from the sun.
Every year there are more new cases of skin cancer than cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon combined, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. Melanoma – also known as “the silent killer” – accounts for less than one percent of cases, but is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
As you can see, sun safety is no joking matter! But that doesn’t mean you have to spend your summer indoors. There are several ways you can protect yourself and your family from the harmful effects of the sun. Keep reading to learn about seven sun safety habits you should incorporate into your summer routine this year!
7 sun safety habits to protect your family
1. Use sunscreen that is 30 SPF or higher
The American Cancer Society recommends using sunscreen with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays), as well as a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher for adults and children. The higher the SPF means the more your skin is protected.
Here is some information to keep in mind:
- SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays
- SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97% of UVB rays
- SPF 50 sunscreens filter out about 98% of UVB rays
- SPF 100 sunscreens filter out about 99% of UVB rays
A few percentage points may not seem like much. But when it comes to your family’s health, you can never be too safe!
2. Apply sunscreen liberally to all areas of the body
For complete sunscreen coverage it is important to apply it evenly and liberally over your entire body, including your neck, ears and lips. Also, if you have thin (or thinning) hair, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the scalp. Make sure to apply sunscreen before going outdoors and reapply often, including after swimming, perspiring and toweling off.
Not sure if your sunscreen is still effective? When in doubt, apply another coat!
3. Use sunscreen year round
The sun is dangerous all year round, even if it’s cloudy or hazy. Also, water, snow and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can cause sunburn and even contribute to skin cancer down the road. UV rays become stronger in the spring, even if it’s still cool out. And they can also reach below the water’s surface, meaning you can still get a burn even if you’re in the water and do not feel warm.
Some UV rays can also pass through windows of a car, home or office. Most windows block UVB rays and a smaller portion of UVA rays. But even if you don’t feel like you’re getting sun, it’s possible you are. It’s best to take caution and make sunscreen a part of your year-round skincare routine.
4. Do not tan or use tanning beds
You may think a dark summer tan is glamorous, but is it healthy? The truth is that tans are actually a result of harmful UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. If you have a tan, it really means you have cell damage.
Tanning contributes to premature skin aging, causing wrinkles, loose skin and brown spots. It can also result in skin cancer. In fact, people who first use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk of acquiring melanoma by 75 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
5. Seek the shade whenever possible
Everyone loves taking advantage of the warm summer weather by getting their family outdoors. We’re not telling you to stay locked up indoors. But be smart about your time in the sun.
Keep in mind that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use the “shadow rule” if you can: If your shadow is short it’s time to abort and seek the shade. Bring a large umbrella or find a tree to give you a break from the sunrays.
6. Keep your clothing in mind
Try to wear protective clothing on exposed areas of skin whenever possible. Protective clothing can include long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. Make sure your sunglasses are labeled as blocking 99-100 percent of UV rays.
The American Cancer Society recommends wearing dark colors versus light colors, and tighter fabric protects better than loose-fitting clothing. Also, wet fabric can be less protective than dry clothing,
7. Protect children from the sun
It’s critical to teach your children about the dangers of excessive sun exposure as they become more independent. If you or your child burns easily, be extra careful to cover up, limit exposure and apply sunscreen.
Keep in mind that infants younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight and protected from the sun using hats and protective clothing. You may use sunscreen on small areas of exposed skin if adequate clothing and shade are not available.
Stay safe in the sun
Nobody is keeping you from getting outside and enjoying some fun in the sun. But before you do, consider these quick tips to help keep your loved ones protected. A few simple sun safety habits can help you to enjoy a safe and satisfying summer!
If you’re curious about ways to stay healthy and happy in other areas of your life, check out our article: 21 Wellness Blogs to Help You Stay Happy & Healthy.