Summer is a time to enjoy warm weather with family and friends. Amid the activities, however, there’s always the danger of skin damage that could eventually lead to cancer.
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer despite being easily preventable. In fact, more people have had skin cancer in the past three decades than all other cancer types combined, according to skincancer.org.
Sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect your skin, but not all varieties protect against both UVA and UVB rays, and protection varies depending on the frequency and quality of sunscreen application. For these reasons, you should also consider alternative ways to protect your skin. Here are five ways to protect your skin without sunscreen:
Long sleeves and pants offer protection, especially when the fabrics are closely knit and dark. If your skin doesn’t see the sun’s rays, it can’t get damaged. There is also lightweight clothing that’s UV-resistant, so you can stay cool and protected. If you don’t want to buy anything high-tech, wearing darker colors will absorb UV rays so they don’t get through to your skin.
Wide-brimmed hats shade your face and neck, which are the most common areas people develop skin cancer. However, avoid straw hats with wide holes as they don’t provide optimal protection.
Fabric coatings are what allow clothing companies to create SPF and UV-resistant clothing. If you want to make your clothing more protective, buy UV-repellent products that act like a detergent and create a fabric coating when washed with your clothes.
Using microscopic crystals, these products prevent UV rays from penetrating the fabric of any clothing you own. That being said, it’s wise to check the effectiveness of such products through available sources, such as consumer websites.
Any eye care professional will tell you your eyes need sun protection just like your skin does. A quality pair of sunglasses will shield much of your face while also protecting your eyes from sun damage.
The ideal pair of sunglasses should block 99-100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, according to the American Cancer Society. The sunglasses’ label should indicate whether the pair meets ANSI UV Requirements or has UV absorption up to 400 nm, which means they block at least 99 percent of UV rays.
Cosmetic sunglasses block only about 70 percent of UV rays, which is better than nothing but if there’s no label or note of UV protection, it’s safe to assume the glasses aren’t the most protective.
Pair your sunglasses with a facial moisturizer infused with SPF protection to protect your entire face.
While enjoying the outdoors, stand or sit in shaded areas. Awnings, umbrellas and parasols could be the difference between skin cancer and healthy, undamaged skin.
Also be mindful of peak sunshine hours. If you don’t go out from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., you greatly reduce your risk of sunburn and damage. When possible, avoid being in direct sunlight altogether, especially when your skin is unprotected.
Avoiding UV lights
Many tanning products exist to "bronze" skin. Although many people know tanning beds and sunlamps are as harmful (if not more so) as the sun’s rays, some remain unaware of the risks of other tanning products. If having bronzed skin is something you want, consider using FDA-approved products that won't harm your skin, such as a bronzer with a color additive or a spray-on tan (as long as you use eye, nose and mouth protection).
Following the above suggestions and wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen according to expert advice will go a long way toward protecting your skin from sun damage and the harmful effects that lead to skin cancer.
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