Are you ready to soak up the sun? Most of us in the Northwest are excited about sunshine. But when it comes to UV rays, are you staying safe?
We all know we need to wear sunscreen and limit our sun exposure, but do you really know what’s in that bottle of sunscreen? A long list of chemicals can be hiding in that tube, and it’s hard to know which are safe. With a few preventative measures we can avoid sunscreen all together, and when we need it, I have listed safe sunscreen selection tips as well.
Ways to lessen your sun exposure
•Avoid high UV times: The sun is at its peak from about 10 a.m.-4 p.m., meaning that is when the UV rays are strongest. Plan activities in the early morning or late afternoon.
•Cover Up: In addition to a hat or visor make sure your clothing is protecting you. You do not need to invest in expensive UV clothing. Simply hold your garment up to a light bulb, and if the light does not pass through, you are good to go.
•Protect the eyes: Don’t forget your shades. Get polarized sunglasses to prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
•Stay in the shade: Plan your sun exposure with frequent shade breaks. Bring a large umbrella or find a beautiful tree to sit under.
When sunscreen is needed, many natural or organic ones can be higher in price, but when it comes to the long-term protection of your skin it’s worth the cost.
•Know what you need: If you plan to be out in the sun for a limited time, you may not need much coverage at all. If you are at the beach all day, you will
need to reapply regularly and get a higher SPF. Most sunscreens don’t add much value over 50SPF, reapply more often rather than opting for a stronger dosage.
•Avoid harmful ingredients: Avoid oxybenzone and octinoxate. Those chemicals are allergens and hormone disruptors. Retinyl should also be avoided as it can increase the rate of tumor growth.
•Avoid the spray: They are not safe. When sprayed the ingredients are launched in tiny particles and can end up dangerously settling in our lungs. •Make it broad: Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will protect you from UVA and UVB rays.
•Choose a mineral-based sunscreen: Zinc is one of the most-common mineral sunscreens and relatively safe for your skin.
No matter how safe you stay in the sun, it is still a good idea to check in with your dermatologist on a regular basis. If you have any suspicious sun spots or abnormal moles get in right away.
Now go (safely) enjoy the sunshine.
Emily Countryman is a board-certified health coach and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She writes a monthly health column for this newspaper.