It was once thought that getting a good “burn” out of the way or developing a “base tan” slowly were the best defenses against a painful vacation. It just ain’t so!
The best protection for snow weary skin is to avoid both the burn and the tan altogether.
Recently published studies have linked indoor tanning, i.e. tanning beds, to skin cancer. Additionally, self tanning lotions do cause the dermis to tan, but do not offer any protection against the sun itself. Bronzers and other options for tanning simply do not equal protection. Remember protecting children under 18 is of utmost importance as research shows most skin damage resulting in skin cancer occurs before adulthood.
When possible, wear a hat, long sleeves in a breathable fabric (cotton, linen, etc.), long pants, and full coverage shoes outdoors. As the summer heats up, however, a barrier of sun screen becomes necessary on all exposed skin during all times of possible exposure. Making sunscreen a part of flip flop and tank top procurement is essential. Both burning and tanning in the sun have consequences beyond the pain and/or color of the short term. Likewise, white or light colored clothing loses virtually all of its protective properties when wet.Merely wearing a tee over a suit is not sufficient.
How to Apply Sunscreen Efficiently
- Apply sunscreen early and often. (20 minutes before exposure and every hour when swimming.)
- Use a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and waterproof
- Choose a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB block
- Select “PABA free” brands
- Be sure to also use sun protection on your lips.
- Push sunscreen well into the hairline, over parts or cow licks, and on to any exposed scalp as well.
- Drink a lot of water. Being properly hydrated is healthy for your skin and the rest of your body in the heat.
- Avoid being in direct sun from 11a-2p when the sun’s rays are most intense.
- Use an umbrella or other “shade” when possible
- Pay attention and apply liberally. “Missing” a spot can have painful consequences. Make sure your sunscreen goes on in a thick layer and takes a couple of minutes to “soak in”. Otherwise it will not have the intended strength of coverage. Follow the instructions on the product very carefully.
Other Sun Safety Tips
- Sunglasses for all ages at all times to protect the retina
- Shoes on the beach to protect against broken shells and debris
- Protect your hair under a hat, scarf, or with a hair sunscreen
- Moisturize your skin daily to prevent discomfort
- Check toes and soles of feet for injuries and “sand burn”
- Always make sure kids know the rules of the water and never swim alone