We all know by now: Sun can be dangerous to the health of our skin. Sun exposure is the #1 culprit for premature aging and skin cancer. While the days of sprawling your baby-oiled body in the mid-day sun are over, there are still many misconceptions about sun protection and about what works and what doesn’t. Here are my top 5 of what you should not rely on for protection:
1) Clouds & Shades
Clouds and shades will not adequately protect you from the sun. UV rays penetrate through even thicker clouds and reach our skin. Your skin may not feel as hot on a cloudy day, but the rays are still damaging to the skin. Sitting in the shade is better than sitting in the sun, but may only provide an SPF15, due to UV-rays reflecting off of surrounding surfaces (water, sand, buildings) and reaching our skin.
SPF only indicates the level of protection from UVB-rays. We now know that UVA-rays are just as damaging to the skin. The beauty and healthcare industry has yet to come up with a standardized system to rate UVA-protection in cosmetics. Until then, look for key words like “broad-spectrum protection” and active ingredients like Avobenzone (Parsol 1789), Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Ecamsule (Mexoryl), Bemotrizinol (Tinosorb S) and Bisoctrizole (Tinosorb M).
While putting on a T-shirt is definitely far better than not having any protection, keep in mind that a simple white T-shirt only holds a sun protection factor equivalent to SPF6! The darker and thicker the fabric, the higher the protection. Alternatively, look for special sun protection clothing with an UPF (usually goes up to UPF50). You can also buy a special laundry-aid like Sun Guard, which will wash an UPF30 into your garments.
4) Make-up with sun protection
With growing awareness about sun protection, makeup companies have been quick to add sun screen into their foundations and powders. The problem is that most people will never apply enough foundation or powder to achieve the indicated protection level, because they would look like a clown. Rather than think of makeup as the base of your protection, think of it as the icing on the cake. Use your regular sunscreen and apply broad-spectrum makeup or powder for added protection.
5) Your body’s alarm system
Our bodies are amazing at telling us what we need. Unfortunately, with sun exposure, your body will not sound the alarm bell as soon as your skin is being damaged. By the time your body tells you, i.e. your skin feels hot and stingy or changes color, the damage has already been done.
What are your foolproof ways to stay protected in the sun?