What are the 3 most important sun-safe habits for your skin?

Health & Wellness

The month of May is brimming with blooms, celebrations, and plans. As you gear up for summer, it’s also a good time to check in on your sun-safety routine. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light is a major risk factor for skin cancer, but it’s a preventable one with good daily habits.

The 3 essential sun-safe habits are:
✅ Covering up
✅ Using sunscreen
✅ Being sensible about sun exposure

Here are our top tips for getting the most benefit from each:

➡️ Cover up
This is often the best place to start for skin protection. Covering up is a quick and easy way to provide broad coverage and protect delicate areas. Some good options:

A wide-brimmed hat
* Choose a hat made with densely woven fabric that protects your face, ears, and back of your neck.
* A chin strap is a good option to keep your hat in place on breezy days.
* Your hat should feel comfortable to wear for long stretches of time.

UV protective sunglasses
* Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
* Choose sunglasses with full, wraparound coverage.
* Pricy polarized pairs don’t provide any extra UV protection.

Sun-protective clothing and swimwear
* Look for options made from lightweight, comfortable fabrics with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).

➡️ Apply sunscreen
The FDA regulates sunscreens as over-the-counter drugs. They’re considered safe and effective. But they need to be applied liberally and often for them to work. Read and follow your product’s instructions. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreen for people 6 months and older. Look for a sunscreen product labeled with the following:

* Sunburn protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
* Broad Spectrum (blocks UVA and UVB rays)
* “Water resistant” (lasts 40 minutes) or “very water resistant” (lasts 80 minutes)

A word on sunscreen sprays: They’re handy to use, but they may not be your best option. It can be harder to tell if you’re using enough, and there’s a risk of inhalation. Spraying in your hand and then applying is a good idea if someone else is nearby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide since they’re generally recognized as safe. They’re also preferred during pregnancy since they aren’t readily absorbed. Whichever type you choose, make sure to use enough and reapply often—at least every 2 hours.

➡️ Be sensible about sun exposure
All exposure counts, but it’s not all the same. Here are a few things to remember:

* Use sun protection every day no matter the weather or season.
* Be extra careful between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.
* Seek shade—or bring your own.
* Sand, water, and snow reflect sunlight and increase your UV exposure.
* Don’t discount short everyday sun exposures, especially if you have very light skin—sunburns can happen in only 5 to 10 minutes.
* Be prepared. Sunburns can happen on days you weren’t planning on being in the sun. Keeping sun protection on hand is best so you’re always prepared.

Soaking up some sun feels good—and it’s good for you. Making sun safety an everyday habit will help you get the sun’s benefits without the risks.

Further reading:



Chemical Exposure from Personal Care Products

In brief: How much sun is too much?

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