As warmer weather arrives, you’re likely looking forward to sunny days spent on the beach and in your own backyard. While everyone loves the look of a glowing tan, summer's longer days and intense sunlight make it more important than ever to keep your skin protected from the damage of UV rays when you’re spending time outdoors. Whether you’re planning a spring break getaway, heading to one of the year’s first baseball games, or just taking a stroll on a sunny afternoon, here are five key tips for practicing sun-safe skincare.
1. Wear SPF Every Day
Even incidental sun exposure can add up to serious skin damage over time, which means that sunscreen should be a part of your beauty routine every day. Experts recommend applying at least an ounce of sunscreen with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection 15 to 30 minutes before going outside each morning. You might select a standalone sunscreen or a foundation with a built-in SPF. Whatever you choose, make sure it's a minimum of SPF 30. Don’t forget about often-overlooked areas that get lots of sun exposure, like your lips and scalp; add an SPF lip balm and hair product to your routine for comprehensive protection.
2. Build a Sun-Safe Wardrobe
If you’re not keen on lathering your whole body with sunscreen every day, clothing can be another great way to make sure your skin stays protected from harmful rays. During the warmer months, choose lightweight pants and tops with long sleeves if you anticipate lots of sun exposure; dark colors are better than light ones for blocking the sun. You can also find clothing with specialized UPF protection built into the fabric for beach days or other times when you anticipate intense sun exposure. Wide-brimmed hats are ideal for keeping your face and neck in the shade. Don’t forget about your eyes, either; look for sunglasses with UV protection built into the lenses to shield your vision as well as the sensitive skin around your eyes.
3. Limit Mid-Day Sun Exposure
Even if you follow the tips above, it’s still a good idea to limit your exposure to the sun when its rays are at their most intense. That means being cautious about spending too much time outside between the hours of 11 AM and 3 PM. Skincare experts recommend keeping an eye on your shadow—the shorter it is, the shorter your time outdoors should be.
4. Practice After Sun Skincare
Even if you’re exceedingly cautious about skin protection, you’re likely to find yourself with a sunburn at some point during the summer months. If you experience sun damage, don’t panic—just give your skin a little extra TLC to help it heal faster. After sun treatments—including that classic green aloe gel from the drugstore—help to revitalize your skin by adding moisture and restoring the lipid barrier. After a sunburn, make sure your skin is cleansed of any sand, seawater, chlorine, or leftover sunscreen, then apply a moisturizer or after sun treatment that’s rich in hydrating ingredients like aloe, shea butter, and almond oil. For particularly bad burns, you can also apply cool compresses or cut down inflammation with over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.
5. Schedule Regular Skin Exams
Last but not least, establish a regular schedule of exams with your dermatologist to make sure your skin isn't suffering any damaging effects from the sun. Yearly visits will help you keep tabs on your skin health, note any areas of concern or changes, and serve as an important preventative measure against skin cancer caused by excess sun exposure.
How do you keep your skin healthy and protected during the summer months? Share your best tips for sun-safe skincare in the comments!
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