Spring has sprung, as they say, and summer lies just around the corner. Down south in Texas, we are already experiencing days in the upper 80s and 90s, and we are preparing to melt our way into the triple digit super summers this area of the country is so well-known for experiencing.
Spending time in the sun and fresh air is good for health is so many ways. Sunlight helps with vitamin D production, which has been shown to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder and calcium absorption, as indicated in this article and short periods of time in the sun is even good for improving our eyesight as indicated in this article.
Of course, the best way to avoid overexposure to the sun is to not spend any time in the sun at all, but since there are beneficial health effects from short periods of time in the sun, one should explore other options for protecting themselves from overexposure to the sun.
Sunscreens are one option to help prevent some of the negative effects of overexposure to sunlight. The SPF factor of a sunscreen determines how strong the product is in protecting from the harmful rays of the sun, while allowing for the benefits of proper and limited sunlight exposure. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor – so the higher the SPF number, the more protection that product provides.
The sunscreens that work best are those with an SPF of 45 or higher. Some researchers have concluded that an SPF of more than 45 is really no more effective than the SPF 45 lotions and creams, so there’s no need to pay more money for most of those products just because of the higher SPF.
Sunscreens can still allow the wearer to get a tan, albeit a slower developing tan, while also preventing some of the negative effects of sun exposure. However, one should not use a sunscreen as a means to spend too much time in the sun. Time in the sun should still be limited for safety and heat issues, as well as to prevent negative sun exposure consequences to skin, even when wearing sunscreen.
Covering the body with protective clothing, wearing quality sunglasses and a hat that protects the face and head from sun exposure along with using sunscreen on exposed skin can help minimize the negative effects of overexposure to the sun.
Waterproof sunscreens are a good choice if water sports, swimming, or heavy sweating will occur during sun exposure. These sunscreens are resistant to rubbing off or washing away with just water exposure, but should remove easily with soap and water.
Organic sunscreens are one of the newer sunscreen products on the market. These organic sunscreens help protect the body from harmful sun rays by using organic photosensitive compounds that naturally protect against the sunlight. These products are generally well tolerated by most users, but can have a higher incidence of allergic reaction than zinc oxide or titanium based inorganic sunscreens, which work by scattering or reflecting the harmful sunlight rays away from the skin. It’s important to apply organic sunscreens well before sun exposure to give them time to work into the skin and provide maximum benefit.
Of course, we’ve all heard the warnings about skin cancer, melanoma, and other damaging sunlight issues, but there’s more to it than just health too. That beautiful glowing tan that you spend hours in the sun to achieve now so you look radiant and beautiful will be the very thing that in 10 or 15 years can cause premature skin aging, skin spots, and a whole host of other ‘un’ beautiful things from overexposure to the sun.
Use common sense when spending time in the sun. Always use a sunscreen, covered exposed skin as much as possible when not swimming, limit the length of time spent in the sun, and always shade the face and eyes from direct sunlight as much as possible. If your skin begins to feel dry, cracked, red or warm to the touch, it’s time to come in from the sun!