Sun Protection 101
Summer is here, so you’ll need to take extra steps to protect the largest organ in your body from exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Sunlight consists of two types: UVA rays, which penetrate window glass and “age” your skin with wrinkling and sun spots, and UVB rays, or “burning” rays that cannot pass through glass windows, but still raise your risk for skin cancer like melanoma, the deadliest form of the disease.
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Sun Protection MythsWearing sunscreen should already be part of your daily skincare regime, but if you’re new to the sun protection game, Denver-based dermatologist Adrienne Stewart, M.D. addresses some widely-held myths:
I don’t need to wear SPF every day. The American Cancer Society reports that nearly 2 million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually, while the American Academy of Dermatology has cited “an association between sunburns and enhanced risk for melanoma,” the deadliest form of skin cancer. With these scary stats in mind, daily sunscreen use is a must, and “should be put on in the nude so you don’t skip an area” that’s exposed, says Stewart.
Darker skin doesn’t need sunscreen. “Tanned skin is not protective, it’s damaged skin,” warns Stewart, adding that a “base tan” can be just as dangerous. “Anyone can get skin cancer,” she says, and “you should be happy with [the tone] of your own skin.”
SPF makeup or moisturizer provides enough coverage. “If you’re not outside that much, that’s one thing, but sun exposure really adds up over the years,” says Stewart. Find a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 that you like. Baby boomers might prefer moisturizing formulas, for instance, while swimmers might opt for something thick and water-resistant.
I get my Vitamin D from the sun. “If you need to get your Vitamin D, it’s much better to pop a Vitamin D pill, or talk to your doctor,” Stewart says. “Don’t go out for more than 15 minutes” if your skin isn’t properly covered.Sun defense doesn’t have to mean coating yourself in bottles of sunscreen. Manufacturers are constantly coming up with clever ways to keep your skin protected, so check out these noteworthy items you’ll want to have in your tote bag this summer.
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Sun Protective Fashion
Wearing any old T-shirt won’t protect you from the sun. Most tees only have an ultraviolet sun protection factor (UPF) 7, while a thick denim jacket has an estimated UPF 1,700—effective sunblock, to be sure, but much too hot for the heat.
Enter Mott 50’s line of UPF clothing. Hailed by Vogue for its “chic, more style-conscious take on super-protective beach- and city-wear,” the line’s basic offerings, like polos and tunics, are sun-safety musts for your closet. The adorable Classic Contrast tunic pictured here is a steal for $129.
Photo Courtesy of Mott 50
Sun SleevesBefore you head outdoors to tend your garden, golf, or go biking, slip on a pair of these UVA/UVB-resistant sun-protective sleeves, reasonably priced for $26.95. Boasting UPF 50 protection, they’ll keep you covered from knuckles to armpit, shielding the sun with a fabric made mostly of coconut fibers and ultra-durable Spandex. The sleeves also fit seamlessly under most golf gloves.
Photo Courtesy of Eclipse Glove
UPF DetergentBuying a box of SunGuard ($1.99) might be the smartest investment you make all summer. Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation and said to block more than 96% of the sun’s harmful rays, just one 1-oz. box of the detergent adds UPF 30 protection to whatever you toss in the washing machine, and will last up to 20 washes. Have an extra-large load of laundry? Simply add another box to the wash. Don't forget to add regular detergent!
Photo Courtesy of SunGuard
SPF Lip BalmCoating your face with sunscreen is one thing, but all too often we forget about our lips, ears and hands, Stewart says. Keep your puckers under cover with Murad’s award-winning Energizing Pomegranate Lip Protector with SPF 15 ($17). It’s just enough coverage for running to and from the office, and will give your lips a much-needed boost with exfoliating and smoothing ingredients.
Photo Courtesy of Murad
Sometimes liquid coverage just isn’t enough. If your skin feels like a crocodile’s on the ride home from the beach, Stewart suggests popping a Heliocare capsule, a dietary supplement packed with natural antioxidants that can help protect the skin from sun damage. “It’s great if you know you’ll be outside all day,” she adds.
Another option is Murad’s Pomphenol Sunguard Dietary Supplement ($36 per bottle), a pomegranate-based pill that deflects “free radicals” from polluting the skin or blocking its pores while outdoors.
Photo Courtesy of Murad
Baby Beach TentParents often forget to keep their kids under wraps during summer, says Stewart, who recommends parents think twice before taking their kids out to play between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its strongest. Measuring 42” by 42” by 33”, Coolibar’s Titanium Baby Beach Tent has a UPF 50, making it perfect for a worry-free day at the beach with your kids. Both durable and lightweight, making it easy to carry, the water resistant tent features three roll-up screen windows to shut out unwanted guests like mosquitos, and has sand pockets and pegs to help keep it in place.
Photo Courtesy of Coolibar