Hot summer days are just around the corner, and if you love soaking up the sun, you might be excited to spend more time outdoors. Absorbing sunlight can be therapeutic, and it is the most natural way to get Vitamin D, which is essential for bone health. In fact, exposing your skin to direct sunlight will allow your body to synthesize Vitamin D, especially in the spring and summer months when the sun shines with more intensity. However, the amount of sun exposure you need for sufficient Vitamin D is probably far less than you think.
According to the National Institutes of Health, you only need 5-30 minutes of direct sun exposure each day, or at least twice a week. If you spend more time outdoors than the recommended amount, particularly between 10 am and 4 pm, you might be getting too much sun, or exposure to UV rays. So, how do you avoid getting too much sun?
How to Avoid Getting Too Much Sun
1. Check the UV index
“Too much sun” actually refers to the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays that are present in sunlight. The sun emits two different types of UV rays - UVA and UVB. According to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburn, while UVA rays penetrate even deeper into the skin to cause premature aging. However, the strength of UV rays can change throughout each day, and it is important to understand the UV ray index when you plan to spend time outdoors. For example, the Aim at Melanoma Foundation reports that a 0-2 UV rating presents minimal risk for up to 60 minutes in the sun. On the other end of the spectrum, a UV rating of 11+ presents very high risk with possible sunburn in just 5 minutes. You can easily check the UV index at any given time of day on your local weather app or website.
2: Apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
The NIH reports that sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 or higher can typically block UVB rays when applied in sufficient amounts, but an SPF of 15 is safer. For extended amounts of time outside, it is best to use SPF 30 or higher that is labeled broad spectrum, which means the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The Caribbean Breeze Reef-Friendly SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion is a perfect option for all these benefits.
Regarding sufficient amounts of sunscreen, the Skin Cancer Foundation states that you should use “approximately two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin.” This roughly translates to the volume of a shot glass for adults. If you are using a spray, like Caribbean Breeze Continuous Tropical Mist, make sure to apply an even sheen across all sun-exposed skin. Other common guidelines for using sunscreen say to apply at least 15 minutes before going outside and to reapply every 2 hours. You should also reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating.
3. Cover sun-exposed skin
Sunscreen cannot block 100% of the sun’s rays, so it also helps to wear lightweight clothing such as long-sleeve shirts and pants that completely cover your skin. While it may be easier to wear protective clothing during the cooler months, there are ways to comfortably cover your skin in the heat of the summer as well.
For protection around your face, ears, neck and scalp, try wearing a wide-brimmed hat. A hat will also protect your hair from being dried out and damaged by the sun. On days when the sun’s rays are especially strong, try carrying an umbrella for extra sun protection and shade. Umbrellas are also great for days at the lake or beach, when sand and water reflect the sunlight, increasing your likelihood of getting a sunburn.
4. Use UV-blocking sunglasses
UV rays are not just dangerous to our skin and hair, but also to our eyes. To avoid serious eye damage, wear UV-blocking sunglasses that completely cover your eyes. The EPA states that “sunglasses that provide 99 to 100% UVA and UVB protection will greatly reduce eye damage from sun exposure.” Dark colored sunglasses are not always UV-blocking, so it is important to look for information about UV protection on the label.
Remedies for Sunburn
Even if you take all the right precautions in the sun, sunburn can still happen. Plus, if you work outside or play outdoor sports, it isn’t always possible to cover your skin or reapply sunscreen like you should. What should you do if you get too much sun?
Immediately after getting sunburn, try to cool down your skin by showering off with cool water or taking a quick dip into a cold pool. Afterwards, while your skin is still damp, apply a gentle moisturizing lotion or gel, such as the Caribbean Breeze Aloe Moisturizing Lotion or Aloe Cooling Spray Gel. Continue to cool down the burn by applying a cold compress to the damaged skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that you can reduce discomfort and inflammation by taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Lastly, remember to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration while your body heals.
5. Plan Ahead
The sun emits UV rays all year long, so it is important to protect yourself from sun exposure during any outing. Even in the winter, or on cloudy days, UV rays can still reach the earth and cause damage to our bodies. It is important to check the UV index before going outside so that you can plan ahead with the proper sun protection.
It is best practice to wear protective clothing and sunglasses, seek shade, and apply broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on all exposed skin. Remember to use extra caution between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, especially around sand, water, and snow which reflects sunlight. For babies, elderly people, and those with fair skin, it is best to avoid any prolonged time in the sun. However, if you do get too much sun, be sure to take care of the damaged area immediately.
Our team at Caribbean Breeze knows that some of the best memories and adventures are made outdoors, which is why we are passionate about providing the sun protection you need to enjoy life. We offer products for before, during, and after your time in the sun, so that you can be fully prepared for the day, every day. You can easily stock up on our protective lotions, continuous tropical mist, and our after-sun care by ordering online at CaribbeanBreeze.com.