How to Protect Your Skin From Harmful UV Rays

During Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May, we focused on skin cancer risk factors and warning signs. While knowing that the majority of skin cancer cases are caused by UV exposure is helpful, as we reach the zenith of summer sun (and vacation fun), we wanted to concentrate on more practical prevention advice. 

So here are some clear tips to decrease the harm that exposure may cause while you frolic freely outdoors.

Shade

A parasol isn’t necessarily required, but keeping out of intense sunlight is, in general, a good idea. Experts at the American Skin Association recommend seeking shade during the brightest parts of the day, which is usually between 10 AM and 4 PM ET.

Sunscreen

Even on cloudy days, harmful UV rays can reflect from surfaces including water, glass, and sand — bouncing off those surfaces to reach the skin. On bright sunny days, they are even more intense. 

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to the entire body thirty minutes before going outside — in any weather. 

This may only be the minimum, however. The MD Anderson Cancer Center more specifically advises choosing a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, and one that offers both UVA and UVB protection. “Also make sure the sunscreen you choose contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,” they recommend. “These ingredients help to block both UVA and UVB rays.”

Keep in mind also that when it comes to sunblock, your skin just can’t get enough. “Ideally, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating heavily,” Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told Allure

How much is enough? “In practice, this means applying the equivalent of a shot glass (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face and body – a nickel-sized dollop to the face alone. If you’re using a spray, apply until an even sheen appears on the skin,” the Skin Cancer Foundation experts recommend

We offer a number of sunscreens and UV protection options here at our online store.

Other Skin Coverings

Sunblock shouldn’t have to operate alone. Hats, sunglasses, swim shirts, and umbrellas can also become your skin’s best protector and friend when it comes to avoiding UV rays. 

“Broad-brimmed hats, bucket hats with wide brims and legionnaire-style hats are effective methods of sun protection to the head, ears, face and neck when used with a combination of other protective measures,” the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency recommends

Clothing can also provide a protective sun shield without interfering with your outdoor enjoyment. 

“Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts cover the most skin and are the most protective,” encourages the American Cancer Society. “Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors. A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing. Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric.”

Sunglasses

It’s not just your skin that needs protection from the sun. Choosing the right sunglasses — and wearing them regularly — can also make a difference. Time magazine published a comprehensive article in 2019 about the threat UV rays can pose to your eyes, so keep them in mind while you’re also shielding your skin. 

We care about your skin care all year round. If you’d like further advice on summer skin care — or to book an appointment for a summer skin screening — connect with us online or call (404) 355-5484.

Posted on behalf of Olansky Dermatology & Aesthetics