It’s summertime! What does that mean? Beautiful golden tans… right? Don’t magazines tell us that if you wear tanning oils with the lowest SPF, then you’ll look like a sun-kissed beach goddess? Sure, you may think you look nice for a little while, but the truth is that this extreme sun exposure can cause sunburns, peeling, several types of skin cancers, rapid aging, and heat stroke. Now, I’m not saying this to scare you. That giant flaming circle in the sky is actually really good for you, especially in replenishing the ever depleting Vitamin D. You just need to know how to prepare for it and how to prepare well.
First of all, you need to tell yourself that those SPF 5 tanning oils and “sunscreens” aren’t cutting it anymore. Think of them as liquid sunburn-enhancers. They don’t protect you at all, and they don’t help you get a tan. To treat your skin in the best way possible, choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 50. This way, you can guarantee that your skin will be protected. Don’t worry; just because your sunscreen is more protective doesn’t mean that you won’t get any color.
Also, keep in mind that you need to replenish your sunscreen every hour or so, depending on the sun’s intensity, and especially if you are going in the water. Word of advice: sunscreens that say “waterproof” are still going to come off in the water one way or another. Better to be safe than sorry.
Another way to ensure sun safety is to choose a proper sunscreen based on its ingredients. Most sunscreens will grab your attention with their bright advertising colors or with their sweet distinctive smells. Don’t fall for such tricks! Turn the bottle around and take a look at what is going on inside. According to WebMD, “Not only can UVB rays cause skin damage [through sunburn], but UVA rays can cause damage as well [through long term skin damage resulting in wrinkles].”
Your best bet? A broad spectrum sunscreen with the highest possible SPF is what you should look for. As a bonus, “look for a sunscreen containing these helpful ingredients: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide,” says David J. Leffell MD — professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. According to Dr. Leffell, any one of these ingredients in a sunscreen would work exceptionally well at providing all-around UV ray protection.
Summer is a time of fun — don’t get me wrong — but it is crucial to your overall health and well-being to protect yourself from the extreme sun exposure that outdoor activities can leave you open to. Don’t let this scare you, and certainly don’t lock yourself indoors for the remainder of summer vacation. So get out there, jump in the water, and have fun with your family and friends (right after you put on your proper sunscreen)!