The easiest way to protect your skin from the sun is already on your phone
UV-tracking devices and color-changing stickers keep tabs on your sun exposure, but you don’t necessarily need them to keep your skin safe.
Amanda Capritto, July 3, 2019
CNET.com – If the relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer is so well-documented, why do beaches become speckled with millions of people sprawled out on lounge chairs each summer?
People have long enjoyed summer vacations on sandy shores, and I don’t blame them: Basking in the sun just feels great.
Unfortunately, everything has pros and cons, and the risks of excessive UV exposure counter the feel-good effects of sunshine. That doesn’t mean you have to stay inside this summer though.
Before you head outside, there are ways to minimize your UV exposure and protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
Here’s everything you need to know about UV exposure, including some at-home ways you can measure it to protect your skin from burns and cancer.
What is UV exposure?
The sun emits three different types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The Earth’s atmosphere absorbs UVC, so we only need to worry about UVA and UVB. UVA comprises up to 95% of the light that reaches our skin, and UVB makes up the rest, according to Dr. David Lortscher, the board-certified dermatologist who leads skincare startup Curology.
What are the dangers of UV exposure?
It might surprise you to learn that UVB rays — even though they only make up about 5% of the rays that reach our skin — are the primary cause of sunburn.
UVB exposure also accelerates skin aging, suppresses some immune functions and contributes to the development of skin cancer.
UVA rays, though less intense than UVB rays, are 30 to 50 times more prevalent than UVB rays … Read more.
Cosmopolitan – While we usually like to fake (not bake) our tans, there are plenty of reasons why we love the sun.
It boosts levels of serotonin (nature’s own Valium, proven to alleviate anxiety).
Not only that, but it produces vitamin D which is good for bones, teeth, and skin. But to avoid premature aging and skin cancer risks, you need to take care for a safe, sun-kissed glow.
1. ALWAYS, ALWAYS AVOID SUNBEDS
Don’t fall for the myth peddled by some salons that they can give you a ‘healthy’ tan with a sunbed.
“It’s the wrong UV – tanning beds pump out huge amounts of UVA and virtually no UVB (which stimulates vitamin D), and can increase your risk of skin cancer by 75%” says Dr. Nick Lowe of The Cranley Clinic in London.
[We have always believed tanning beds should be illegal; they have long been known to cause cancer when used as directed. We also avoid any business that includes a tanning salon, as the presence of tanning beds reveals the management’s dangerous priorities. – Editor]
2. APPLY THE RIGHT SUNSCREEN
Don’t just rely on SPF; on the bottle you need to look for the term ‘broad spectrum’ or the UVA logo plus the word ‘high’. We recommend La Roche-Posay Anthelios.
Go for SPF30 over SPF50. “It filters 97% of UVB rays, while SPF50 filters 98%. The latter can give a false sense of security and can be so chalky you may not reapply it every two hours like you should. If you have very dark skin (south Indian or black), SPF15 is sufficient.” Explains Dr. Lowe.
3. UNDERSTAND YOUR TANNING TIME
Your skin reaches a tanning cut-off point when it physically can’t produce any more melanin, the tanning pigment, so it’s pointless to lounge by the pool all day.
“Everyone has their own melanin cut-off, typically two to three hours or much less if you have fair skin” says Dr Lowe. “After this you’re just subjecting your skin to the risk of UV damage.”
[Our personal sun-exposure rule: stay indoors within two hours before and after solar noon, which is 11 am to 3 pm during daylight saving time. – Ed.]