While basking in the direct sun for hours on end sounds like a dreamy summer day, it can be quite a nightmare for your skin. Sunburns can be incredibly painful and with prolonged, unprotected UV exposure, they can lead to precancerous spots and premature aging. Having a deep, dark tan isn’t worth the health risks.
If you’re allergic to sunscreen or hate the feeling of slathering your entire body and face in a thick cream, there are plenty of other ways you can stay safe in the sun. So before the hot, hot summer heat rolls in, be sure to stock up on the necessary items to provide you with protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
Wear protective clothing
The easiest way to protect your sensitive skin from the sun is by keeping it safe under clothing. This means layering up with long-sleeved shirts, linen pants and button-ups, and wide-brimmed hats. If you’re really eager to avoid any sun damage, keep an eye out for clothing that has an ultraviolet protection factor rating as this can provide some extra protection. Many surf and outdoor shops sell swim shirts that can keep your skin safe in and out of the water.
Don’t be afraid of the shade
It’s totally okay to move into the shade if you feel yourself getting hot in the direct sun, especially during the sun’s peak hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At this time, the sun’s rays are the strongest, which means it’s the perfect time to seek shade under trees, umbrellas, or buildings.
Just like your skin, your eyes are very sensitive to the sun’s UV rays as well. Sunglasses can protect your peepers against UV rays and other elements like the wind and sand, which can irritate your eyes. For those concerned about premature aging and wrinkles, wearing sunglasses can also keep you from squinting, which can result in fine lines around your eyes. They are also a fashionable accessory that can also hide under-eye bags if you stayed up late the night before hitting the beach.
Be mindful of reflective surfaces
The water, snow, and even sand can reflect the sun’s rays, so if you’re hanging out in the pool or spending the day skiing the slopes, you’re increasing your exposure to UV radiation. When you’re in these environments, it’s best to cover up and take extra precautions.
Check the UV index
Everyone can easily access the daily UV index through their weather app or with a quick Google search. The UV index measures the strength of the sun’s rays and will show you when the UV rays will be at their peak throughout the day. Before planning outdoor activities, check the forecast and plan accordingly.
Consider your skin
Everyone’s skin is unique, which means some people may burn quickly while others can tolerate being in the sun for hours without burning. If you’ve got fair skin, you’re naturally more susceptible to developing a sunburn or heat rash, meaning you should always be taking sun safety precautions. Those with darker skin have more melanin, providing them with some natural protection from the sun’s rays. If you have a family history of skin cancer, it’s absolutely crucial that you stay safe in the sun, no matter your skin type.
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Soak up the summer without getting a sunburn: Alternatives to wearing sunscreen was originally published in Think Dirty on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.