While many of us like to enjoy the sun and hot weather, we should make sure we do it safely. Over time the damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin wrinkles, sagging, brown spots, and skin cancer. 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year.
We need better protection from the sun to prevent skin damage and cancer. Unfortunately, many sunscreens do not provide the protection they claim and contain harmful ingredients. According to the Environmental Working Group, two-thirds of the sunscreens in their analysis didn’t work well enough or contain ingredients that may be toxic. The FDA does not regulate the ingredients in skincare products for safety very well. Few ingredients are banned compared to the hundreds banned in Europe.
The sun feels good on our bodies, helps us release stress and boosts our Vitamin D levels. Let’s have fun in the sun and enjoy the great outdoors, but let’s be smart about it!
Here are 8 tips to help:
Throw out your sunscreens…with oxybenzone. Research indicates that this common sunscreen ingredient has hormone disrupting effects.
Replace chemical based sunscreens with zinc oxide based sunblock’s. These can have longer lasting protection without the harmful ingredients. Steer clear of super high SPFs. SPFs over 50 are really no measure of sunscreen effectiveness, and they may give you a false sense of security.
Avoid makeup in loose powder form claiming SPF protection (containing zinc or titanium nanoparticles). These could create damage because they’re often inhaled during use and the small particles can get lodged in your lungs.
Avoid indoor tanning. People who regularly get indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanning are 74% more likely to develop melanoma (the most dangerous of skin cancers) than people who have never tanned indoors. According to a JAMA Dermatology study, there are more cases of skin cancer due to tanning than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
Dress to protect. Shield your skin’s elastin and collagen from potentially harmful UV light by wearing a hat and sunglasses when outdoors (and other cover-ups when possible).
Get some Vitamin D. Expose your arms and legs to the sun 5 to 30 minutes twice per week without sunblock but only in the morning and late afternoon hours (to avoid the most damaging rays). If you’re fair skinned, 5 minutes twice per week is all you need. You can also get vitamin D by eating the following foods: Salmon Wild, Fresh – (3.5 oz = 600–1000 IU of vitamin D3), Cod liver oil (1 tsp = 400–1000 IU of vitamin D3) and Shiitake mushrooms, Sun-dried (3.5 oz = 1600 IU of vitamin D2). For more on Vitamin D, visit this blog: Vitamin D-Sunshine Vitamin
Eat antioxidant rich foods. Studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and olive oil, as well as certain dietary supplements with vitamins E and C, and carotenoids, can have sun-protective effects and can combat oxidative damage. If you need some extra help with antioxidants, try the Ultimate Antiox Full Spectrum supplement ultimate-antiox-full-spectrum-90-capsules
Truly the best way to avoid sunburn, wrinkles, skin cancer, and other damage is to stay out of the daylight, especially between 11 a.m. and 2p.m, when the sun’s rays are strongest. Plan you indoor activities during the hottest part of the day (between 11am and 2pm), or relax in the shade during these peak sun hours. Just because it’s cloudy, doesn’t mean the sun can’t reach you. Cloud cover does reduce the risk of getting burnt, but only by a fraction and UV rays can still penetrate cloud cover. Never treat a cloudy day as an opportunity to give sunblock a miss.
By Dr. Trevor Cates