Your skin has a sort of love-hate relationship with the sun. On one hand, your skin soaks up the sun’s rays and uses it to make vitamin D — an essential nutrient your body needs to make healthy bones. The sun is also a natural mood booster and may even help you strengthen your immune system.
On the other hand, the sun can quite literally fry your skin, which triggers an avalanche of both cosmetic and health issues. In the worst cases, severe sun damage can lead to skin cancer.
So how do you get the best of both worlds?
Here, our team of expert dermatologists at Sanford Dermatology shows you ways to reap all the benefits of the sun while keeping your skin’s health in mind.
And by always, we mean always – even if the forecast says mostly cloudy. That’s because the sun’s rays can pierce through even the thickest cloud covers and wreak havoc on your skin without you even realizing it.
Go to any drug store and you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by the number of choices you have when it comes to sunscreen. We recommend that you zero in on the sunscreens that have a sun protection factor (SPF) value of 30 or higher.
SPF is a measure of how much solar energy (or UV radiation) is required to burn your skin once it’s protected with sunscreen. SPF does not refer to the amount of time you can spend in the sun. For example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 means your skin will take 30 times as long to burn as it would without any protection.
But there’s a bit of a catch.
The amount of solar energy fluctuates throughout the day. You may be able to spend one hour in the sun at 9am, but only 15 minutes at 1pm.
Covering yourself with a strong sunscreen (and reapplying often) keeps you protected throughout the day and as solar energy levels change.
There are few things better than hitting the shores when the sun is shining. However, the surface of the sand and surf act as large mirrors, magnifying the sun’s rays and reflecting them back onto your skin. If you’re around sand and/or water, be sure to reapply sunscreen often.
We mentioned before that solar energy is more intense during certain parts of the day. That’s why we suggest that you try to schedule your outdoor activities before 10am and after 4pm, when the risk of skin damage is less severe.
There’s nothing wrong with hanging back under a shady tree or large umbrella. In fact, a diligent sunscreen routine combined with shelter from the sun is the best way to ensure you’re not harming your skin.
Additionally, you may consider wearing protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats. You can even find articles of clothing that have built-in UV protection.
Want more skin-saving tips and tricks? Don’t hesitate to request an appointment over the phone at any of our Sanford, Pittsboro, or Lillington, North Carolina offices today.