Ah, the beautiful outdoors, the sandy beaches, the water lapping against the shore, the winding roads, the wildlife, the sun on your skin. What could be wrong with this picture?
If you picked the sun on your skin, you’re right. For years we have known how damaging the sun’s rays can be to our skin, how they age us, how they can lead to skin cancer – it’s enough to make you want to avoid the sun completely.
Then again, it’s the sun, the sun is good. In cartoon pictures the sun is always smiling; we love the sun. Not only does it keep us alert, it triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins to boost mood, lower blood pressure, deepen sleep, and support bone health.
The sun helps us keep in touch with our natural circadian rhythm and provides us with the vitamin D our bodies need. Can there be a way to get the benefits of the sun without the detriments?
If you take the right precautions, there can be. Here are a few ways to enjoy the sun without damaging your skin.
Avoid the Sun Between 10 A.M. And 4 P.M.
The rule is “when your shadow is short, seek shade.” The sun is strongest between 10 and 4 p.m., and even more so between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you want to sit out during this time, make sure you do it in the shade.
Dress for the Occasion
Sunscreens may protect your skin, but not as well as clothing will. We all want to wear the least amount of clothing in the summer, but your bare skin is still your bare skin, and even the most potent sunscreens wear off during the day. After you slop on the sunscreen, consider slipping on a shirt, hat, and sunglasses. A little extra clothing can be the ounce of prevention that leads to the pound of cure when it comes to keeping your skin protected.
Eating may be the last thing that comes to mind when you think of sun safety, but by eating certain foods, you may be able to give your skin additional defense from UV rays. Pigments in tomatoes, carrots, and peppers fight against sun damage, and foods high in antioxidants, lycopene, beta carotene and lutein can help regulate cell turnover. Guavas, sweet potatoes, pomegranates, and leafy greens are all good bets.
Lastly, you want to make sure you’re getting the most from your sunscreen. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply 30 minutes before heading out in the sun to allow the ingredients to absorb. Make sure to cover all exposed skin and reapply every 15 to 30 minutes.
Keep in mind, the best protection against skin damage is you. Just keep your head in the game and the sun on the horizon. Then the possibilities are limitless.