The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has officially declared the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, “National Sunscreen Day.” Although there are a million and one reasons to celebrate the sun, on Friday we spread awareness about its potential danger and we get smart about managing the sun.
So let’s talk about sun damage for a bit and then go into how we can take preventative measures. As beauty lovers, we are obsessed about the health and vitality of our skin. Sun damage is one of the main causes of premature aging. It can actually compound the aging process. Ultraviolet light from the sun penetrates all the layers of skin, including the layers that actively work to produce collagen to fortify your skin. This leads to decreased elasticity, sagginess and wrinkles (gasp!) Also, that bright red lobster look that you can get from a fresh sunburn has never been flattering. And what about the hyperpigmentation or potentially dangerous moles that often make an unwelcome appearance after frequent sun exposure? No thank you.
The most unfortunate potential consequence of sun overexposure is skin cancer. In the U.S. alone, there are 5.4 million cases reported per year. There are more skin cancer cases than breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer combined!
Still not convinced? Do you need a visual? Dr. Sandra Lee (a.k.a.) Dr. Pimplepopper shared this man’s photo on Instagram:
She engagingly asked her fans if they could guess his occupation, the obvious answer being a truck driver. The photo shows the drastic difference in skin texture between the frequently sunned left side of his face and the shaded right side.
But on a more positive note, let’s talk about what you CAN do to stay safe in the sun.
Avoid the Sun!
When possible, you can protect yourself from the sun by avoiding it all together. Try to stay covered indoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
When you must go outside, wear a hat and sunglasses. Skin-protective clothing act as an extra barrier from those harmful rays. Cover up your arms with long sleeves and wear long pants. This is especially important when you anticipate being outside for an extended period of time.
Slather on that SPF!
For those times you want to go outside and show some skin, be sure to protect it with sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher that specifically says “broad-spectrum” on the label (which means it protects against UVA and UVB rays). Also make sure that your sunscreen is water resistant. It’s best to wear sunscreen every day, all year long. Harmful rays don’t go away just because it’s cloudy and gray outside. It’s ideal to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Remember that photo that Dr. Lee shared? Apply sunscreen even if you’ll be in the car driving all day. Reapply your sunscreen every two hours while the sun is out to keep that SPF factor fresh and actively working to protect your precious skin.
And of course don’t forget to stay hydrated! Drink lots of water!