There are many reasons why you should go outside and enjoy a beautiful summer’s day. Getting a little time to enjoy the light, the scenery and the warmth can be great for your overall health and wellbeing. However, when you do, it is important to remember that the sun can be very damaging to your skin, leading to sunburn and even skin cancer. This is why it is important to protect your skin when you are out in the sun, especially in Australia, where the prevalence of skin cancer is very high.
What are you protecting yourself against?
When you are applying sunscreen and taking other precautions, such as wearing a hat and sunglasses, you are protecting yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. This is electromagnetic radiation that exists at a frequency of above that which we can see. If you remember your colour spectrum, you’ll know that the last colour is violet. UV is radiation that is more energetic than the electromagnetic waves that allow us to see the colour violet. Ultraviolet radiation peaks between 10 AM and 4 PM. This is when you really need to take extra measures to protect yourself and, unfortunately, those hours happen to be some of the best to be outside on a sunny day, so diligence really is necessary. Unlike wearing protective gear when you are cycling or playing sports, wearing gear that protects you from ultraviolet radiation actually makes you more comfortable, so there are creature comfort reasons to make sure you’re protected against UV in addition to protecting your health.
This is your most basic line of defence. Any sunscreen that you use should have an SPF of 15 or better (the higher the SPF value, the better the protection it provides from the sun) and it should protect against UVA and UVB. These are different wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation, both of which are associated with melanoma and other skin cancers.
Remember that sunscreen has to be reapplied throughout the day, approximately every 2 hours, but there should be instructions on the specific product telling you when it is best to reapply. If you are sweating or swimming, you need to reapply it more frequently. Give it at least 15 minutes to work its way into your skin after applying it before you go out in the sun and, as you’ll find out in the next section, do not rely on sunscreen alone to protect you if possible.
Clothing is excellent protection against ultraviolet radiation and, in fact, you can buy clothing that is designed to keep you cool and that has a built in SPF, which is an excellent option for summer. What you probably don’t want to hear is that the clothing you are wearing should cover you all the way down to your wrists and should cover your shoulders. You can find athletic clothing that fits very closely – it’s easy to wear it under a short sleeve shirt – and that will actually cool you off, rather than making you feel hotter. The material wicks perspiration away from your skin, allowing it to dissipate and cool you. You’ll also likely find that, with your skin properly protected, you’ll be a lot more comfortable in the sun.
The last two elements you need are vital. You need a hat and sunglasses. For hats, look for wide-brimmed hats or, if you prefer a hat with a smaller brim, you can buy or make a legionnaire hat. To make a legionnaire hat, simply take a bandanna, lay it over the top of your head and put the hat on over the bandanna. This will hold it in place and give you some protection along your face and neck.
Sunglasses should block UVA and UVB and should wrap around so that they provide adequate protection at the sides of your eyes. Polarised sunglasses are great ideas, as they eliminate glare and make you much more comfortable.
Sunscreen, sleeves, a good hat and a pair of sunglasses will make summer a lot more fun, actually keep you cooler and can greatly reduce the risk of one of the most deadly types of cancer.
If you require personalised skincare based for your specific skin type contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a Dermatologist. We‘ll provide you with a straightforward, efficient and very effective treatment plan targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.