Beyond Sunscreen: 5 Tips for Skin Protection

You’ve probably heard the catchphrase, “Protect the skin you’re in.” But protecting your skin means a lot more than simply wearing sunscreen at the pool.

To keep your skin healthy and at its best, you need to take several steps to protect it—especially during the summer months. Below are five tips for skin protection.

Wear sunscreen the right way.

  • Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to wear sunscreen. The “right” way requires a few steps. First, you need to choose an effective sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a broad-spectrum (meaning it protects against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays from the sun) sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  • Second, you need to apply the sunscreen correctly. You should apply sunscreen to all exposed skin whenever you go outdoors, even on cloudy days. Ideally, you should apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside to allow your skin time to absorb it. To properly protect your skin, you should apply approximately an ounce of sunscreen, or roughly what would fill a shot glass.
  • Last, remember to reapply. Sunscreen is only effective for a certain length of time. You should reapply sunscreen at least every two hours while outdoors—and more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.

Protect your whole body.

  • Certain areas of the body are often forgotten when it comes to applying sunscreen. Remember to put sunscreen on your ears, nose, the back of your neck, feet, and part of your hair.
  • You should also apply a lip balm containing sunscreen to your lips since they can also burn. In addition, wear sunglasses to protect the sensitive skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Make sure you choose sunglasses that are designed to block 99 or 100 percent of both types of UV rays.
  • A broad-brimmed hat can provide additional protection for the neck, head, ears, and back.

Seek shade.

  • We know it’s tempting to bask in the sun. But it’s also hot — and dangerous.
  • When you’re outdoors, try to find a shaded area to sit or lie in. A tent, umbrella, awning, or other covering will provide additional protection from the sun’s rays and help keep you cool.
  • Even if you’re in the shade, don’t forget the sunscreen!

Choose your outdoor time carefully.

  • If you’re planning to spend time outside, try to avoid the time of day when the sun’s rays are the most intense, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Instead, head outdoors in the early morning or evening hours when the sun will be less intense.

Wear clothing.

  • That’s a funny tip, right? But it’s a real one. According to the American Cancer Society, clothing provides some level of UV protection.
  • If you’re going to be out in the sun for a while, protect your skin with long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants or skirts. Darker colors provide the most protection.
  • If you want to go a step further, choose sun-protective clothing that identifies a UV protection factor or UPF. The higher the number, the more protection.

Are you experiencing the painful effects of a sunburn despite your sun protection efforts? If you experience intense pain, fever and chills, severe blisters, headache, nausea or vomiting, or severe dehydration along with your sunburn, seek emergency attention.