With spring here and summer on it’s way, here are some tips on how to enjoy the sunny weather safely:
1. Apply physical sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Physical sunscreen is the white stuff with the ingredients of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The chemical sunscreens don’t work half as well, and can be irritating to some people. And the good news is that the physical sunscreens are much more cosmetically-appealing these days. No more of the white chalky stuff you used to only apply on your nose!
2. Apply a LOT of sunscreen and reapply it a LOT! Most of us apply way to little sunscreen to get adequate coverage from both UVA and UVB rays. For adults, a convenient guideline is to apply one teaspoon for your face and scalp, two teaspoons for your neck and torso, one teaspoon for each arm, and two teaspoons for each leg and foot. For kids, you can apply about half as much depending upon how big they are. Basically, cover them from head to toe and don’t worry about rubbing it all in. If it doesn’t all rub in before they run away from you, that’s actually a good thing.
3. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go into the sun and reapply every 2 hours. You’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating. Sunscreen needs at least 15-30 minutes to absorb into your skin to be protective, and becomes inert after about 2 hours. And although “water-resistant” sunscreen is helpful, it’s still best to reapply after swimming (even if it hasn’t been 2 hours yet).
4. Avoid the height of the sun hours between 10am and 2pm. This is pretty easy for us because we have little kids who need lunch and naps during these times anyway. However, it’s a good policy for everyone. Try to use most of those intensely strong UV hours to take a break, go get some lunch and switch your activities to shady areas.
5. Get your Vitamin D from your diet not the sun. We all know that Vitamin D is essential to maintain healthy bones and bodies, and that sunlight increases Vitamin D production. However, because the risks of routine UV exposure are so high, it’s recommended that you get your Vitamin D from Vitamin D-rich foods and supplements instead. Great choices are fortified milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified cereal, salmon and tuna. And supplements can be found in every drug store these days, in both adult and children’s formulas.
6. Makeup with SPF is fine to use but not as your sole sunscreen. Cosmetic marketers have been wise to add SPF to makeup formulations. And they do provide some minimal coverage. However, they should only be used as an additional SPF on top of your real sunscreen. So be prepared to buy a lot of sunscreen (we get ours at Costco), but if you follow these tips, you and your family can still enjoy yourselves safely outside this spring and summer.