Hot Fun In The Summertime: How To Protect Yourself During The Summer Without Sacrificing Fun

By Rawn Bosley, MD FAAD

School’s Out (for Summer.)  Hot Fun in the Summertime. Summer Breeze.  These hit songs encompass the joy and anticipation many of us look forward to as we enter the summer months. A common question that I receive is how do you balance having fun in the sun and adequate sun protection. Here are a few tips to help you stay protected in the summer.

Summer is full of long days and bright, sunny weather. The first thing we all should understand is that the sun is intense. The sun is at its highest intensity during the midday hours. In general, avoiding prolonged sun exposure during the hours of 10am and 4pm will help reduce your exposure to the high-intensity sun rays. During prolonged amounts of sun exposure, the best protection is sun protective clothing. There is more to sun protection than just sunscreen. These are some must-haves when it comes to summer attire.

Sunglasses: Sunglasses not only protect your eyes but protect the skin around your eyes from receiving excess exposure to ultraviolet light.  Damage from UV rays leads to early skin aging around the eyes. Sunglasses also help prevent squinting which can contribute to the development of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.

Hats: The bigger, the better. Hats are helpful to protect the scalp and face from the harsh sun rays. Wide brim hats are particularly helpful in protecting areas such as the ears and the neck.

What Is The Best Sunscreen To Wear During The Summer?

There are a few basic rules that apply when deciding which sunscreen to use. A UVA/UVB broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater is optimal for any time of the year. There are some forms of sunscreen that may have advantages compared to others. Mineral-containing sunscreens have elements such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These mineral elements physically block or reflect UV rays compared to chemical-based sunscreens, which absorb the UV rays before they enter the skin. Though sunscreen generally should be reapplied every two hours when exposed to the sun or when the skin is wet or sweaty, some believe that mineral-based sunscreens break down or degrade less quickly than their chemical counterparts and thus may provide protection if you are not as diligent in reapplying your sunscreen.

What About Sun Protective Clothing, Does It Really Work?

Yes, it really works. It is important to note that all clothing is not sun-protective. A standard cotton article of clothing may only provide a protection factor between 3 and 8!  True ultraviolet light protective clothing is made with unique fabric that often contains the same mineral elements found in sunscreens. This type of clothing provides consistent sun protection with an adequate protection factor that does not decrease over time since it does not have to be reapplied like sunscreens. If you enjoy outdoor activities, it is recommended that you wear a sun protective garment to provide sustained protection during your activity.  Whether you are an outdoor fitness buff, an avid fisher or swimmer or just want to be protected while enjoying lunch on the patio, there is something designed for you.

Enjoy your summer and protect your skin’s health by using the these simple tips.

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