Enjoy the Summer without the Burn

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The dog days of summer are here. For me, that means I’m soaking up as much sunshine and happiness as possible! I really do mean sunshine AND happiness—we get Vitamin D from the sun, and that increases our serotonin levels. Increased serotonin levels means increased happiness.

The flip side of getting your Vitamin D from sunshine is that you’re also getting an increased amount of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Those are the rays that give you sunburns and are the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancers.

In order to enjoy the sunshine without the guilt and fear of getting sunburns, wrinkles, and potentially cancer, I follow these steps:

  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Enjoy the sun, but bask in the shade.
  • Pretend that every day is derby day, and enjoy wide-brimmed hats.
  • Slather on 50 SPF sun screen ever two hours.
  • Hide behind protective clothing when I can’t find shade—like when I’m gardening or working in my yard.
  • Try to limit my time outside during the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., since this is when UV levels are highest.

For more ways to enjoy the sun without the burn, check out this infographic.

 

Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap! – All You Need to Keep Your Skin Safe in the Sun

Beach hat and sunglasses on towel isolated on white background

On days when I plan to be at the beach or pool I’m sure to cover every inch of my body with sunscreen – several times a day.  I bring along the big Scarlett O’Hara hat, too, making sure my face has even more protection then the rest of my body – you can never be too cautions when it comes to preventing wrinkles.  On those days when I’m ultra-prepared, I know that I’m taking good care of my skin.

But there are those days when “I’m going to run to the market” turns into lunch with my friend on a café patio to catch up.  And, of course, catching up spills into a walk in the park and before I know it, I look like a lobster and I have tank top and flip flop tan lines!

Luckily, I have more days when I know I’m going to be in the sun and I’m prepared to battle UVA and UVB rays.  How can we make sure that we’re always prepared to stand in the sun instead of shriveling up with sunburn?

The American Cancer Society has some great tips for protection from UV rays.  The most obvious one is to stay in the shade and limit your UV exposure but I love their nifty catchphrase: “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!”

Slip on a shirt – Cover your skin as much as possible.

Slop on sunscreen – Use a broad spectrum sunscreen to fight both UVA and UVB rays and make sure that it has a SPF of 30 or higher. A morning application isn’t enough, so make sure you reapply throughout the day.  Be sure to check the expiration date on sunscreen, too!

Slap on a hat – A hat with a 2 to 3 inch brim is ideal because it protects your ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. These are the areas that are exposed to intense sun and are most likely to burn.

Wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them – UV blocking sunglasses are important! Make sure your shades block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays; labels on your sunglasses will let you know if they are meeting this standard.  Large Jackie-O glasses or wraparound glasses are more likely to prevent sun coming in at different angles.

It should go without saying that we should also avoid tanning beds and sun lamps.  If you are looking for a healthy summer glow, try a spray tan or self-tanning lotions.

“Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!” That’s all I need to remember every day to make sure my skin stays healthy year round.