Our sun has been worshipped since the earliest times. While we no longer offer sacrifices to it on an altar, we still love a sunny day when we can lay on the beach or by a swimming pool – it lifts our spirits and provides our body with some very needed vitamins.
But the sun is also a monster; too much exposure leads to dehydration, sun stroke, and even skin cancer. Skin experts have developed an array of helpful items to take the sting out or old Mr. Sol, and you should be aware of them, for your own health and the health of those near and dear to you!
1. Choose Your Sunscreen Wisely
Old-fashioned suntan lotions offer little protection from the sun. Replace them with those reading ‘broad-spectrum UV coverage.” These will protect you from both UVA and UVB sunlight. Double check to make your sunscreen does not contain any ingredients you are allergic to. Your sunscreen should also be water repellent and contain zinc oxide.
By looking at the label you can tell if your sunscreen contains Vitamin A or PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid), which can irritate pale skin and interfere with your melatonin. Sunscreens do have expiration dates, so make sure to check your bottle or tube before heading for Miami Beach or the Gulf of Thailand.
2. Lather Up Where it Counts
Don’t forget the little nooks and crannies when you apply your sunscreen. Ear tips, scalp and lips are often overlooked, and can burn just as acutely as your back or arms. Lip balm with SPF 30 is a good idea; all convenience stores carry the tubes up front by the cash register. It’s the best $1.65 you can spend in the summer. Doctors believe that this lack of sunscreen is why most skin cancers occur on the lips, scalp and ears. If you don’t want to mess up your hairy with a gunky sunscreen spray, just pop a chapeau on your noggin.
3. Get 15 Minutes of Sun Without the Lotion
We don’t mean to scare you off from enjoying the many benefits of sunlight. It’s a good source of Vitamin D, which strengthens the immune system, as well as keeping your bones firm and solid. Sunshine is mood enhancer, which is why you’ll find so many nursing homes and rehab centers in sunny climates like Florida and Arizona – all that sunlight encourages the production of serotonin – the ‘party’ hormone that makes you feel great no matter what’s happening.
Dermatology experts now say that you should get a good 15 minutes of pure, unadulterated sunlight each day for maximum feel-good effect. That means when you’re ready to hit the beach or pool party, don’t put your sunscreen on right away – sit out under the golden rays of the sun for fifteen minutes, and then put on the sunscreen. Not only your skin, but your whole inner person will thank you for it!
4. Stay Extremely Hydrated
Image via Flickr by Sardionerak
The sun acts like a water vacuum, sucking up the H2O while you’re working on your tan. So make sure you bring lots of water, sports drinks and other non-carbonated beverages to the beach. Carbonated beverages are bad for your teeth. And alcohol will actually cause you to become MORE dehydrated, so put down that beer and pick up a glass of iced tea!
5. Wear Your Best Shades
Buy sunglasses that fit comfortably; too many people wind up with nose dimples and irritated back ears. Check out the label for these statements: UV absorption up to 400 nm, and Meets ANSI UV requirements. Then you know you’ve got shades that cut out most of the UVB and UVA radiation.
Buy shades with wide sides, so the sun doesn’t come at you from an angle. While polarized sunglasses are fashionable, they really don’t do anything about direct sunlight damage. They are mostly for show, as well as cutting down the glare and reflection.
You can enjoy your day in the sun without sun burns, heat stroke, rashes or the fear of skin cancer. Always use the proper sunscreen, and use it generously. Keep hydrated with water or juice, not soda pop or beer. And use the proper shades, not something kitschy from the local Ben Franklin. Keep all this in mind so you and the sun can remain good buddies.