Sun Protection & Sun Safety Tips for Adults & Kids
The sun may be essential for life, but its ultraviolet (UV) rays can be damaging to the skin. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and UVA rays contribute to the signs of skin aging—but both can contribute to the development of skin cancer. Broad spectrum sun protection can help minimize the risk of skin aging, sunburns, and skin cancer. Follow these sun-safety-tips to help reduce your risk of skin damage.
SUN PROTECTION RULE #1: AVOID THE SUN DURING PEAK HOURS
The sun’s rays are strongest between 10am and 2pm1. To better protect your skin from sun damage, seek shade during these hours.
However, even if you are sitting in a shaded area, it is important to remember that ultraviolet radiation does not just come from up above. UV rays can reflect off surfaces like water, sand, snow, grass, or even pavement. Snow is an especially powerful reflector; it almost doubles the amount of UV exposure2. UV levels also increase at high altitudes and closer to the equator3.
This means you can still be exposed to UV rays in the shade, on a cloudy day, or in the middle of winter. If you can't avoid the sun during peak hours, take extra precautions for yourself and your family by following the tips below.
SUN PROTECTION RULE #2: WEAR SUN PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
When outside, clothing is one of your main defences against harmful UV rays. However, not all clothing is created equal. Here are a few things to consider:
Fabric: Tightly woven fabrics provide the most effective shield against sun rays4. The looser the weave, the easier it is for UV rays to penetrate. Silk, muslin, and lace are less than ideal. Remember that the more you cover up, the more you are protected, so opt for long sleeves and long pants or skirts.
Some manufacturers have developed specific UV-protective clothing that comes with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating, which specifies how much of the sun’s UV rays are absorbed by a fabric. A garment with a UPF of 30 provides sun protection by only allowing 1/30th of UV rays to reach your skin. In order for a fabric to receive the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, clothing must have a minimum UPF factor of 305.
Color: Fabrics with darker or more intense colors tend to have better UV absorption. Deep blue shades offer the highest absorption, while yellow shades offer the least6.
Hats: To help protect your face and neck from the sun, wear a hat with a wide brim of at least three inches all the way around7.
Sunglasses: For optimal eye protection from the strongest sunlight, choose sunglasses that have lenses with UV protection. Also make sure they fit well, as sunglasses that slide down your nose will expose your eyes to UV rays. (And if they’re too tight they’ll give you a headache.)
SUN PROTECTION RULE #3: PROTECT YOUR SKIN WITH SUNSCREEN
With so many different sunscreen filters, SPFs, and formulations, choosing and applying sunscreen correctly can feel overwhelming. Here are some important points to know:
Sunscreen vs. sunblock, what's the difference?
Historically, sunblock has referred to physical or mineral sunscreen filters such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These filters work by reflecting the sun’s rays (like a mirror) to help protect the skin. However, the FDA banned sunscreen manufacturers from using the term sunblock in 2013, as it may lead users to overestimate the effectiveness of the product8. It is therefore better to address this question by answering, “What is the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens”.
Chemical, or traditional, sunscreens contain ingredients that absorb UV rays while mineral sunscreens have ingredients that reflect or physically block UV rays1. Chemical sunscreens come in a wide range of aesthetic textures and are ideal for outdoor activities since they do not rub off skin easily.
Mineral sunscreens are often recommended by dermatologists for people with very sensitive skin or a known allergy to chemical UV filters. Some sunscreen formulas contain both types of filters.
UVA / UVB Sun Protection
UVA rays, sometimes referred to as aging rays, can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, and can pass through window glass. UVB rays, sometimes referred to as burning rays, are the primary cause of sunburn and are not able to penetrate window glass9. However, both can contribute to the development of skin cancer. Help keep yourself and your family’s skin safe by choosing broad spectrum sunscreens that provide both UVA and UVB protection.
Click HERE to read more about the difference between UVA & UVB rays.
What does SPF stand for?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rates how long your sunscreen will help protect against UVB rays. If your skin burns 20 minutes after sun exposure, SPF 30 will protect you for 20 x 30 = 600 minutes. However, this does not mean that you should only apply sunscreen once. Factors like sweating or swimming will impact the efficacy of any sunscreen, so it is important to reapply every 2 hours or more frequently.
The FDA recommends using a sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF value of 15 or higher10. This should be increased if you are spending extended periods of time outdoors or if your skin is prone to sunburn.
Know how often to apply sunscreen
Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go outside, and don't forget about your ears, the nape of your neck, your feet and ankles, and the backs of your hands. Once you head outside, it’s essential to reapply sun protection every two hours, or more frequently if you're swimming or sweating (even with a water-resistant formula).
Understand how much sunscreen to use
Most people don't use enough sunscreen to get the level of sun protection stated on the bottle—and the proper amount is probably more than you think. The average adult needs to apply two tablespoons (the size of a standard shot glass) to adequately cover their entire body11.
Choose different sunscreen products for different situations
There’s a wide array of sunscreens available for a reason, and one formula is unlikely to meet everyone’s needs. It is important that you select your sunscreen based on your skin type, skin concern, texture preference, and lifestyle. If you live an active lifestyle, you may want to opt for a formula such as Anthelios Melt In Milk Sunscreen SPF 60, which is designed to absorb moisture. However, if you have acne prone skin, it is important that you look for oil free, non-comedogenic formulas such as Anthelios Clear Skin Oil Free Sunscreen SPF 60.
Anthelios broad spectrum sunscreens are formulated in a variety of serums, fluids, milks, lotions, creams, and sprays for all lifestyles and skin types, including sensitive, dry, oily, and acne-prone, as well as formulas for children.
Know your sunscreen expiration date
If you are considering whether you should use the bottle of sunscreen that’s been sitting in your beach bag since last summer, check the expiration date on the bottle. Discard the product if it has expired, as it will not provide you with effective protection. Some sunscreens are not labelled with an expiration date. The FDA does not require that a date is printed if the sunscreen was formulated to be stable for three years12. Many manufacturers still choose to include the date even if the products are stable for three years.
In addition to the expiration date, sunscreens also contain a symbol on the bottle or tube that indicates how long the product can be used after it’s been opened. To ensure optimal sun protection, do not use the sunscreen past the recommended use date.
SUN PROTECTION FOR KIDS
Children's skin is particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV rays. That's why dermatologists agree that babies and toddlers under 3 years old should avoid direct sun exposure.
If your plans involve spending time outside with children, it is recommended to keep sun protective clothing on hand. When it comes to applying sunscreen, look for formulas specifically designed for children. The ideal product should be water-resistant and formulated for sensitive, young skin. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if children are swimming or sweating.