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Top 5 Sun Protection Tips

by kelly / April, 27 2016 01:30

Fun in the sun is taking off now with the warmer weather. We love the sun here at Block Island Organics but we also love playing smart and playing safe in the sun (hey that also happens to be our tagline!). So this week I'm here to give you a quick hit list of five great sun protection tips.

You might be asking; why should I really care about sun protection? Well overexposure to the sun can cause sunburn and it can lead to more serious health problems like skin cancer, premature skin aging, eye damage and immune system suppression. Yeah, not fun things. Thankfully, with our simple list you can prevent these problems.

1. Wear Sunscreen

You know I had to start off with this one but I'm not the only one. The Skin Cancer Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to name a few all strongly recommend sunscreen.

Sunblock should be worn daily - not just during warmer months - as UV rays from the sun are present year-round and even on cloudy days according to the FDA. In fact, up to 80% of UV rays penetrate clouds. For a refresher course on UV rays and why they can be harmful check out our post "UVA, UVB and UVC Rays: What They Are and How Sunscreen Protects You".

Here are things to look out for to ensure you are getting the right protection with a sunscreen or any SPF product:

  • SPF of at least 15 and many organizations recommend an SPF of at least 30
  • Broad spectrum protection - a broad spectrum product will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. SPF is only a measure of protection against UVB rays. In general, UVB rays cause sunburn and skin cancer while UVA rays cause skin aging and skin cancer.

Finally don't forget to put sunblock on all exposed areas of the body and to reapply. Folks often forget to apply sunblock to their ears, hands and neck to name a few. To find out how much to apply to each part of the body check out our post "How Much Sunscreen Should You Use".

2. Cover Up

If you are going to be out in the sun for a long time consider wearing long-sleeved clothing, pants, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Some things to think about when picking out clothes for the sun - dark colored clothes are more likely to protect better than lighter colors. Tightly woven fabric is more protective than loosely woven ones and of course dry clothes protect better than wet.

Keep in mind that a typical t-shirt has an SPF rating below 15 so you should consider other types of sun protection at the same time.

Today there is sun protective clothing on the market but note that the FDA only regulates these products if the brand makes a medical claim. The FDA's advice is to consider using an umbrella for shade.

Check out our post "Protecting Your Eyes in the Sun" for even more tips for finding the right pair of sunglasses.

3. Seek Shade

The sun's rays are the strongest between the hours of 10am to 4pm. If you can't avoid being in the sun during that time - try to find some shade.

A good way to determine how strong the sun's rays are is to do a shadow test. If your shadow is shorter than you the sun's rays are at their strongest for the day.

4. Check the UV Index

Another way to determine the overall strength of the UV rays for a particular time and place is to check the area's UV index.

The UV index runs on a scale from 1 to 11+ with a rating of 11+ meaning that there is an extreme risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. Find our more about what each of the ratings mean in our post "Our Guide To The UV Index - Sun Safety".

You can find the UV index for major cities via the US National Weather Service’s site or by zip code on the EPA's site.

5. Protect Children & Babies

Our little ones need special attention and protection in the sun. Babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight and protected from the sun with clothing and shade.

The FDA recommends sunscreen for children ages six months and up. The AAD and Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggest using a mineral sunblock (like our sunscreens) as they may cause less irritation to their more sensitive skin.

Find even more sun protection thoughts and tricks for kids in our blog post "Sun Protection Tips for Babies and Kids".

Finally it's great to teach kids sun protection early on as it can lead to a lifelong of good habit - especially as the effects of sun damage are cumulative.

There you have it our five tips for a lifetime of healthy skin. Have a good time in the sun and always remember to be sun smart.

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