Yes, it’s still winter outside. But temperatures have begun to warm up in and around Toronto and Markham and it’s never too early to begin thinking about protecting your skin against the sun’s harmful rays.
While we all need sunlight to live, prolonged exposure to the sun is very damaging to your skin. It can cause brown spots, dryness and wrinkling. Worst of all, it’s a leading cause of skin cancer.
It’s difficult to avoid the sun altogether. But by being mindful of the damage it can cause and taking steps to protect yourself, you can enjoy the sunshine and keep you skin looking healthy.
1. Take Cover
The best way to avoid sun damage is to simply not expose your skin to it. This is especially true during the “high sun” hours between 10:00 a.m and 4:00 p.m. in the summer. Wearing long sleeves and pants will help, but make sure the fabric is designed to block the sun. Many fabrics let UV rays pass through.
It’s important to consider sun exposure even when you’re not at the beach or otherwise out in the open. While you might wear a hat and other protective clothing while gardening, some parts of your body, particularly your hands, neck, ears and nose, can suffer over exposure.
2. Know the Facts About Sunscreen
First, it’s just that, a “screen” and not a “block”. The U.S. FDA no longer allows the use of the word “sunblock” on sunscreen products. The FDA also prevented the use of the terms “waterproof” and “sweat proof”. The whole idea behind the FDA initiatives is to remove any false sense of security that we may have that wearing sunscreen absolutely prevents sun damage. Even SPF ratings can be deceiving. The protection offered by any sunscreen varies depending on the intensity of the sunlight, the length of exposure and skin type, among other factors.
Use sunscreen with a high SPF rating, apply it liberally, apply it often, especially after swimming or sweating, and make sure it offers UVA and UVB protections
3. Pay attention to UV reports
Believe it or not, you could get a sunburn on what looks like a cloudy day. Make sure to check the UV and Ozone Index in weather reports on any days that you plan to be outside for any length of time.
4. Check for Reflected Light
Harmful UV rays can be reflected from sand, water and, in winter, snow. It means that, even if you are under an umbrella or other shade, you skin could still be exposed to damaging rays.
5. Stop Sunbathing
It’s amazing that, after all the evidence about the effects of overexposure to sunlight, many of us still actually lie fully exposed in direct sunlight trying to get the perfect tan. Yes, you might put on enough sunscreen to protect yourself for the length you lie in the sun, but when you sunbathe, you greatly increase the chance of overexposure and suffering permanent skin damage.
There’s no reason to not have fun in the sun. Just make sure you protect the thing that protects your entire body – your beautiful skin