How I Protect My Skin from Sun Damage
The warmer weather is here, and now that I’m not covered from head to toe in winter gear, I’ve placed my focus back on how I protect my skin from sun damage. Before getting started, I am a firm believer that being outside in daylight is great for mental and physical health. A touch of direct sunlight can give us critical vitamin D and can just brighten our moods altogether. That said, if I’m going to be out longer than about 10 minutes on a mildly sunny day or 5 minutes in the dead of summer when the rays are blasting down, I take action to protect myself.
Why I Protect My Skin from Sun Damage
The Cleveland Clinic acknowledges that there are definite benefits to a limited amount of sun exposure, as I mentioned. That said, when you’ll be spending more than a handful of minutes outside – driving to work, walking to the store, gardening, or enjoying a BBQ with friends and family – steps need to be taken to keep the largest organ on your body safe and healthy.
Being outside is a fantastic way to reduce stress, encourage physical activity and get that beloved vitamin D. Still, those are all possible without getting excessive sun exposure, too. After all, that backyard BBQ really isn’t worth getting skin cancer, damaging DNA, or aging yourself prematurely when simple steps can prevent it, right?
How I Protect My Skin from Sun Damage
I use guidance from the CDC to help me to make the right choices for how I protect my skin from sun damage. Here are the steps I’ll take on any given day.
1 – Stay in the Shade
Staying in the shade is a super-simple way to be outside, enjoying daylight and sunlight without having it beating down on every inch of exposed skin. Sitting under a tree, in the shade from a building or other structure, or from an umbrella can make a big difference. I was recently reading a post from a rosacea blogger (they need extra sun protection) who discussed her love of parasols, which really caught my eye. I plan to add that to my strategy to protect my skin from sun damage this year.
2 – Protective Clothing
This can feel like a tricky one, but fortunately it’s getting easier as more consumers across the country and around the world focus on sun protection. In the summer, it’s hot, so it’s natural to want to wear tank tops, shorts and sandals. That said, companies are producing lots of fantastic breathable, sweat wicking, fast-drying fabrics in UV protecting clothing. Whenever possible, these are the best things to wear. Keep in mind that lighter clothes reflect more light than darker ones, making them cooler options.
3 – A LARGE Brimmed Hat
A baseball cap is better than nothing, but not by much. They keep sun out of the eyes more than anything else. A large, brimmed hat is the way to go. One where the brim goes all the way around. This can mean a good cowboy hat, one of those farmer-style hats (as long as it’s not straw with holes that let the light through), a beach hat, or one of those Tilley Endurables hiking-type outdoorsy hats.
These don’t technically protect much skin other than the delicate stuff around the eyes, but I’m mentioning it anyway because I’ve been focusing on my eye health lately, including taking a vision supplement, and my optometrist recommends UVA and UVB ray blocking sunglasses.
4 – Yes, I Protect My Skin from Sun Damage with Sunscreen
This is a big one. I have a separate product for how I protect my skin from sun damage on my body than on my face. I use natural, physical barrier sunscreen instead of the chemical stuff, though I have nothing against other forms. I just found what I like for the moment and am sticking to it since it works. Choosing a sunscreen is a surprisingly personal choice, and there isn’t one that is perfect for everyone. That said, it’s very important to reapply regularly and use the right amount.
5 – Overnight Skincare
After a day in the sun, even after taking all my precautions to protect my skin from sun damage, I like to be especially kind with gentle overnight skin care that promotes healing. I wash in cool (not cold) water with a gentle cleanser, I use a chamomile spray for calming and healing, and apply pure aloe gel (it’s clear, not bright green…aloe is not naturally bright green, that’s dyed!) to any areas that may have had sun exposure regardless of my care. I then moisturize with a good basic unfragranced moisturizer like Vaseline Intensive Care or Lubriderm Unscented.