Properly Protect Your Skin This Summer

sun tanSummer is officially here, which means showing more skin and having more sun shining on it. As a teen I welcomed nothing more than exposing my body to the sun’s rays for as long as I possibly could every day of summer. Becoming the tannest of all your friends was the main goal of the season, and we all took that challenge very seriously. Baby oil was the only acceptable form of sun tan lotion; we wouldn’t dare use sunscreen.

At the time, we all looked great- young, tan and wrinkle-free. However, fast forward 15 years later, and I can’t really say the same thing. That’s not to say we are all looking like catcher’s mitts, but to continue that type of sun exposure would not be a good look at my age. With that said, protecting your skin should be a priority, and limiting the amount of rays you take in this summer should be your first step.

The best and easiest way to lower your risk of skin damage is by simply applying sunscreen everyday, rain or shine. It is recommended to use a 30 SPF or higher to get optimal protection. You can either opt for a physical or a chemical sunblock. They both perform similar functions, but act very differently. Physical sunscreens come in the form of minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They reflect the sun’s UVA and UVB rays off of the skin, acting the same way a mirror would. Physical sunblock is most likely better for sensitive skin, since it rarely sparks allergic reactions. Just keep in mind that they don’t stick to the skin as well as chemical sunscreen, so it is necessary to reapply every time you get out of the water or sweat profusely.

Chemical sunscreens work differently than physical sunblock by absorbing and neutralizing the solar energy rather than reflecting it away from the skin. Chemical blockers usually can only defend against one type of sun ray, however if it is labeled as a broad spectrum cream then that means it protects against both UVA and UVB. This type of sunscreen is usually water resistant, so it is a better choice for athletes or people who are going to be in the water for an extended period of time.

No matter what type of sunscreen you choose, it is important to make sure you are using it correctly. Most people are not putting enough off on their face and bodies, letting harmful ways get to the skin. Most dermatologists says you need at least once ounce of lotion to fully cover yourself head to toe, reapply that same amount every two hours, if not sooner. It is also necessary to put on the sunscreen even when it doesn’t look sunny out, at least to your face. Even if it doesn’t seem like there is a risk of sun exposure, you would be surprised at the amount of sun can get to your skin even on an overcast day. 

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