July is UV Safety Month and while it’s a great excuse to give you some bright tips for a safer summer, Sun Safety is important year round. Not only is skin cancer the most common type of cancer, there are many preventable measures you can take to help lower your risk. Use these tips to help keep your skin protected and healthy all year long.
Not All Sunscreen is Created Equal
Everyone knows sunscreen is a must but there are still a number of things that might not be on your radar when it comes to this sun protection staple.
1. Check the expiration date. If your sunscreen doesn’t have a specific expiration date, it should be disposed of within 2 years of purchase.
2. Be sure to use a water-resistant sunscreen if you’re going to be in the water or a pool for an extended period of time. Reapply as instructed (usually every 40 or 80 mins) and directly after swimming.
3. How broad is your SPF? Be sure to use a broad spectrum sunscreen. This will protect against both UVA and UVB rays, the two most harmful types of rays emitted from the sun.
4. Apply liberally! Spend more time than you may think applying sunscreen to all parts of your body. Areas like your ears, lips, backs of hands and feet are often overlooked.
5. Check the label. Studies have identified up to 9 chemicals present in sunscreen that are absorbed into the body during use. While there is still no conclusive evidence that these chemicals are harmful to humans, you can put your concerns at ease by sticking to sunscreens with main ingredients of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Those two ingredients rank the lowest among active ingredients in sunscreen when it comes to potential toxicity and absorption.
6. Is your sunscreen reef-safe? Two of the chemicals causing concerns listed above, oxybenzone and octinoxate, are also suggested to contribute to coral bleaching. You can do your part to prevent this disruption by using sunscreen with UV protection from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (yes, those are the same two ingredients we just mentioned above that are also safe for you, we consider that a win, win!).
Shade With Shades
Just like your skin, your eyes can also be affected by the harmful rays of the sun. Wearing sunglasses when you’re out in the sun will help protect from harmful UV rays and help prevent eye problems down the road, such as cataracts. Be sure to check your sunglasses for adequate UV protection because just like sunscreen, not all sunglasses are created equal. Look for glasses that block 99-100% of both UV-A and UV-B rays and 75-90% of visible light. Many newer sunglasses also offer an anti-reflective coating, which prevents harmful rays from reflecting off the back surface of your sunglasses.
Covering Up is Key
Opt for sun protective clothing. UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing is becoming more and more available from popular retailers. In addition to sunscreen, clothing featuring UPF 30+ will help keep your arms, legs, and shoulders protected during prolonged sun exposure. Donning a UPF 50 rated shirt blocks 98% of the sun’s harmful rays keeping you safe from the sun and reducing the need to reapply sunscreen as much. And don’t forget to cover your noggin’! Not only is your head one of the most vulnerable areas for sun exposure, it can also be a tough area to spot skin cancer. 13% of skin cancer is found on the scalp, so your best defense against not joining that statistic is to slather on the sunscreen and fully cover with a hat.
Protect Your Vanity
If we haven’t convinced you to cover up yet we will leave you with this: it is estimated that 90% of skin damage is caused by the sun. Stopping wrinkles, starts with sunscreen.