Responsible Sun Exposure
July 13, 2023
The Importance of Responsible Sun Exposure: Protecting Your Skin and Health
As the sun shines brightly, it’s tempting to bask in its warmth and soak up its rays. In fact, your health can greatly benefit from responsible exposure to the sun. But responsible exposure does not always mean lathering up or spraying down with sunscreen and heading out for the day. By adopting simple yet effective measures, you can reap the benefits vitamin D has on our health and mood, protect your skin and overall health, and minimize the risks associated with excessive sun exposure.
- Understanding the Sun’s Rays:
The sun emits two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that affect our skin: UNA and UVB. UVA rays contribute to premature aging, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburns and play a role in the development of skin cancer. Responsible sun exposure involves balancing the benefits and risks by minimizing exposure to harmful UV radiation.
- The Role and Benefit of Vitamin D:
Sunlight helps our body naturally produce this essential nutrient. Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, muscles, and for our mental health. Ultimately vitamin D is synthesized from UVB rays. As a result, it is recommended that you get a short amount of time, usually around 10-15 minutes, in the sun during times when the sun is not at its peak intensity (ie exposure during the early morning or late afternoon). You generally do not produce Vitamin D while wearing sunscreen as the sunscreen blocks the UVB rays from the sun.
- Sunscreen: The benefits and Considerations:
Sunscreen can both block and disperse UVB and UVA rays. The specific mechanisms through which sunscreen provides sun protection can vary depending on the type of sunscreen and its ingredients. While typically sunscreen is measured by its sun protection factor (SPF), you should also consider finding a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, you should consider if you are truly blocking the UV rays using a physical block like a zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, vs dispersing UV rays which absorb and convert UV radiation into less harmful forms of energy. Sunscreen has received a lot of heat lately (pun indented) over the chemical ingredients and determining how safe those chemicals truly are for our skin. Do your research and consider use of a product with mineral-based sunscreens like zinc oxidide and titanium dioxide, mentioned above. Finally, it is important that you use sunscreen properly. This includes proper application, and re-application after time or exposure to water or sweat. There is more room for human error with application compared to other options.
- Wear Protective Clothing:
Clothing plays a vital role in responsible sun exposure. Opt for lightweight, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and skirts made of tightly woven fabrics that provide better protection against UV radiation. Wide-brimmed hats help shield your face, neck, and ears. Don’t forget the accessories like umbrellas, sun-protective sleeves, and neck gaiters. These items provide an extra layer of defense against the sun’s rays, especially during extended outdoor activities. The benefits of protective clothing include consistent and continuous protection, however will not cover all areas of your body.
- Stay Hydrated:
Sun exposure can lead to dehydration, so its crucial to drink plenty of water when spending time outdoors. Hydration supports overall health and helps regulate body temperature, preventing heat-related illnesses.
- Teach Sun Safety to Children:
Responsible sun exposure should begin in childhood. Teach children about the importance of sun protection, including wearing sunscreen, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing and hats. Encourage healthy habits form an early age to ensure a lifetime of sun-safe practices.
Enjoying the sun responsibly allows you to reap its benefits while minimizing the risks to your skin and health. By following these simple steps, you can maintain a healthy balance between sun exposure and protection. Embrace responsible sun exposure to enjoy the outdoors safely, keeping your skin radiant and your well-being intact for years to come.