Back in the days of sock hops and Elvis, a tan was considered the quintessential proof of health, an active social life, and the ability to travel to wherever the sun was shining. However, today we know that exposure to the sun is not as beneficial as it once was presumed to be. In fact, more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the United States.
Research has shown that exposure to the sun is a sure-fire way to destroy the collagen that allows your skin to be supple and elastic. With collagen gone, skin looks weathered and saggy. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can also give you pigmentation, freckles, and wrinkles. However, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.
Never forget your sunscreen
Most people think wearing sunscreen is only necessary when you are planning a day at the beach. Definitely not true. Experts say you should wear sunscreen if you plan to have any exposure to sunlight. They also say you should choose a product with a high sun protection factor (SPF), and you should put it on around 20 minutes before you go out. What’s more, sunscreen isn’t a one-shot deal. If you’re outdoors playing, running, or moving your belongings into a storage shed, you need to apply sunscreen every two hours. Lastly, don’t scrimp when you apply sunscreen. Make sure you slather it on generously to all parts of the body.
Always use protective clothing
Get used to wearing clothes that protect your skin. Cultivate the habit of wearing a hat, shirts with long sleeves, and long skirts or pants. Find a way to put some style into these articles of clothing because they will help lower your risk of cancer. While you’re at it, buy yourself some fashionable shades with 100% UV protection. Not only will these look stylish (think Tom Cruise à la ‘Risky Business’), they will also help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
Stay in the shade
You will never be able to totally avoid sun exposure, but you can at least try to stay in the shade while outdoors. Combine this precaution with being savvy on UV levels. Learn all about the websites of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service. Both have useful information about the daily UV index. Watch out for UV levels from 7 to 10; these are considered unhealthy.
Tanning beds and playing all day in the sun are now a thing of the past if you want to be healthy. The days of bronzed skin inspired by Baywatch are over; put health and wellness before tanning, your skin will thank you for it.