Soak Up The Sun (But Not The UV Rays)

beach scene

We love the lazy days of summer and all the possibilities they hold: beach vacations, sitting by (or splashing in!) the pool, picnics in the park, and more. But by now everyone knows that sun protection is critical to safely enjoying all the extra time spent outside. Here are five ways to stay safe in the sun this summer.

Clothing. Covering up may be the last thing you want to do on a hot summer day, but clothing is our first and best line of defense against harmful UV rays. When packing for a trip to the beach, throw in a flow-y linen shirt or dress to cover up with when not in the water, or invest in a pretty cover-up. Some fabrics have UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) labels–a shirt with a UPF rating of 50, for example, lets 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays reach the skin. (Make sure your clothes have a Smartphone Pocket to keep your smartphone safe, secure, and sand-free!)

Sunscreen. You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying again: don’t skimp on sunscreen. When choosing a sunscreen, look for three things: 1) an SPF of 15 or higher, 2) the term “broad-spectrum,” which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and 3) water-resistance.

Hat. Visors are fine, baseball caps are better, but the best kind of hat to wear in the sun is a big, floppy, wide brimmed hat like one of these.

Sunglasses. Don’t forget to protect your eyes! Over time, the sun can cause serious damage to eyes and eyelids, including eyelid cancers, intraocular melanoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and more. When choosing sunglasses, look for 1) UV protection (ideally 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB light; even better if they also block HEV light), 2) lenses large enough to cover your eye and the area around it; 3) polarized lenses to eliminate glare.

Shade. Beach umbrellas, trees with dense foliage, structures that offer covered areas–all of these can offer some respite from the sun’s harmful rays, but often we are not as safe in the shade as we might think. UVB rays can reach the skin indirectly, and not all shade is equally protective (average-sized beach umbrellas, for example, are actually not very effective at blocking the sun’s rays). If you want to seek shade, go ahead, but use it along with the measures listed above for maximum sun protection.

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