Five sun-sensible tips for healthier skin
It’s official: We’re counting down the hours to summer. With sunnier, longer and warmer days on the horizon, there’s a good chance you’ll start to spend more time outdoors. No matter where you’re headed this summer — the park, the pool, the beach or the river — now is the time to take a closer look at your skincare routine. With more than 5.4 million skin cancer cases diagnosed every year in the U.S. alone, Skin Cancer Awareness Month reminds us that simple choices play an important role in healthy skin.
Check out these five sun-sensible tips to help prevent skin damage beyond the summer months:
- Taking a road trip? Take heed: A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that more than half of skin cancers on patients in the U.S. seem to occur on the left side of the body, which happens to be the driver’s side of the car. Whether this is a coincidence or not, consider investing in transparent window films to screen out UVB and UVA rays (only effective when your windows are rolled up, of course), and slather on the sunscreen before taking off. Doctors even encourage the re-application of sun screen every two hours.
- Keep an eye on the clock - and your shadow. The sun’s rays are at their peak during the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., putting you at higher risk for sunburn. If you have young children, a great way to guide them on this concept is to show them their shadows; explain that if their shadows are shorter than they are, it’s time for some shade.
- Make sun-safety accessories a priority. We’re talking wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses (preferably wrap-around styles that block UVB and UVA rays) and lightweight, long-sleeved cover-ups. If possible, look for products approved by the American Academy of Dermatology. With so many affordable options out there, you’re sure to find a few pieces that will become your family’s summer staples.
- Sunscreen is a no-brainer, but be sure to choose wisely. No matter which brand you decide to wear, ensure it’s SPF 30 or higher. And don’t forget to apply a lip balm! Choose SPF 15 or higher to protect your lips.
- In addition to an annual full-body skin check by your family doctor or dermatologist (especially if you have a family history of skin cancer or other risk factors), conduct at-home skin checks on a regular basis. By recognizing skin changes at home, you can quickly alert your doctor of any moles that may appear suspicious. Aim for a monthly self-check from head to toe, using a hand-mirror for the top of your head or other hard-to-see areas (or ask a family member to help).
With the majority of skin cancers linked to sun exposure, it’s extremely important to prioritize your sun protection and skincare routine anytime you’re heading outdoors, regardless of the season. Your choices make more of an impact than you realize. You’ll not only help prevent skin cancer, but also slow down the signs of premature aging too.