FYI, you probably don’t know as much about sun protection as you think.
Americans are covering up less and seeking the sun more—even though UV radiation is the major risk factor for skin cancer. Sun exposure may also be to blame for as much as 90 percent of skin’s visible aging. That means more wrinkles and pigmentation for many sun worshippers. So why do fewer than 10 percent of us apply sunscreen every day?
This needs to change. Here are six things you might not know about sun safety—and six things you should be doing to protect your precious skin.
may be up to 70 percent less likely to wear sunscreen compared to when they were 11 years old. Not surprisingly, researchers suggest that older kids are more likely to crave a sun-kissed (and skin-damaging) glow. Considering that just one severe sunburn sustained in childhood or adolescence can more than double one’s chance of developing melanoma, that’s pretty alarming.
What to do: If you’re a parent, carry extra hats and sunscreen with you to ensure the kids and teens in your life protect themselves.
5 to 15 minutes
in midday sun a few times a week may be adequate for some people to get sun-synthesized vitamin D, but remember: There’s no level of UV exposure that’s guaranteed as safe. It’s a catch-22: Our bodies manufacture vitamin D when we’re exposed to the same rays that cause skin damage. Fortunately, we can largely get adequate vitamin D through supplements.
What to do: To ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D, take a daily supplement with at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D year-round.
0.1 to 1%
concentrations of a certain type of vitamin A called retinol in sunscreen can increase sun sensitivity. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) warns that vitamin A on sunlight-exposed skin may speed the development of skin cancer. Although many cancer agencies dispute this, it’s best to avoid the ingredient in sunscreen.
What to do: Avoid sunscreens that contain retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, retinoic acid or retinol.
basic types of sunscreen exist: chemical and physical. Physical zinc- and titanium-based mineral sunscreens don’t penetrate the skin and do a good job ensuring UV rays don’t, either.
What to do: Check out the EWG’s annual sunscreen guide for a list of the best-rated natural sunscreens: ewg.org/sunscreen.
of sunburn-causing rays are blocked by SPF30 sunscreen. What you might not realize is that sunscreens with higher SPFs block little, if any, more UVB radiation than that. Sun protection factor (SPF) ratings, which are a measure of sunscreen’s ability to screen out UVB rays, can be confusing. The EWG warns that extremely high SPFs can lead you to believe you’re better protected than you really are and that you can stay out longer in the sun, thus increasing damaging UV exposure.
What to do: Generously apply broad spectrum (protecting from both UVA and UVB rays) SPF30; avoid higher SPF products.
where non-melanoma skin cancer appears is the face. In a recent study, the ears were the third most common spot for at least one type of skin cancer to appear. Men were more likely to develop skin cancer of the ear, possibly because their shorter haircuts leave ears more exposed.
What to do: Really protect the ears and face (that means getting every groove and ridge with sunscreen and sporting a hat).
The beauty vitamin
If your skin and hair need an extra boost this summer, biotin could be your best friend. Also known as vitamin H, biotin is a B vitamin that’s essential for the health of your skin, digestive tract and metabolism. As a supplement, biotin may help strengthen hair and bolster brittle nails.