5 Sun protection tips you never knew

Apr 24, 2013 at 6:56 a.m. ET

We all want that sun-kissed glow, but it's important to protect yourself from harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can cause skin cancer. Learn how to protect your skin with these beauty tips you probably never knew could make a difference.

woman wearing hat to shade from the sun


Wear SPF 30 or more

Many people think any SPF is better than none, but that isn't actually the case. The FDA recommends wearing SPF 30 to truly protect your skin from UV damage. The 30-level sun protection factor can block out 97 per cent of the sun's harmful UV rays. If you use SPF 8 or 15 to tan and protect your skin at the same time, you're not accomplishing the latter. The sun protection in any product with an SPF lower than 30 is too minimal to protect against the sun's rays. It's also not necessary to opt for SPF 75 or more; past SPF 30, there is minimal difference in protection.


Avoid tanning completely

Even if you don't roast by the pool for hours on end, soaking up some rays, it's important to remember that tanned skin — even a light tan — is damaged skin. The only safe tanning out there is a spray tan. Whenever your skin darkens, it means it has been cooked by the sun and is now permanently damaged. The tan will fade, but the effects of the sun, such as skin cancer risks and premature wrinkles, do not fade and cannot be reversed. Yes, the more sun you take, the more at risk you are, but occasional tanners are also at risk of developing the disease.


Dark-skinned people
need SPF too


While it is true that dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin and are less likely to get UV damage, everyone is it risk for developing skin cancer without adequate protection from the sun. Don't assume the sun can't harm your skin just because you are someone of colour. You should take the same precautions as fair-skinned people, and be sure to stay out of the sun, wear sun-protective clothing and use sunblock.


Wear sunglasses

Shades are not just for looking good. It's important to get yourself a pair of sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection for daily use. Whether you're at the beach or in and out of the car, your eyes need protection, because skin cancer can develop in the eyes as well, not just on the surface of the skin. You can't slather your peepers with sunblock, but you can wear dark sunglasses to keep the harmful rays from damaging your eyes and causing cancer or other vision problems and complications.


Find out if your meds make you photosensitive

All the sun protection in the world won't do you much good if you are on a medication or oral contraceptive that makes skin more sensitive to sunlight. If you take any prescription medications at all, speak with your doctor to see if they can cause photosensitivity, which can lead to swelling or burning of the skin when exposed to UV rays. If so, you will need to take extra precautions to protect yourself, like wearing sun-protective clothing or avoiding extended periods of time in the sun.

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