The bright, sunny days of summer are finally here, inspiring many to get outside and enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Whether you’re spending time relaxing by the water or engaged in more adventurous sports and activities, making sure your skin is protected from harmful sun damage is vitally important. Neglecting your skin’s health during the high heat and intense sun of summer can lead to issues down the road, including increased skin cancer risks.
Skin and Beauty Center’s world-renowned dermatologists are dedicated to your skin’s health all year round. Here are our top five must-do skin safety tips for the summer.
Sunscreen for All: While often seen as a preventative measure for people with fair, sunburn-prone skin, everyone should wear sunscreen regardless of skin tone. Higher levels of melanin may serve as a natural protectant against UV damage but it is not as failproof as some assume. Adding an additional layer of protection with the right sunscreen can help prevent lasting damage.
While looking for the most effective sunscreen this summer, look for:
- 50+ SPF (but be aware that 60+ SPF does not necessarily offer additional protection)
- Broad spectrum UV protection
- Avoid Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, and Avobenzone
- For sensitive skin, try to find a mineral based sunscreen
- Use products that are JUST for sun protection, don’t rely on combination products like SPF-containing makeup or insect repellants
It’s also important to ensure you use your sunscreen properly, applying at least 20 minutes before initial exposure and reapplying at least every two hours while outdoors.
Physical Barriers for Additional Protection: Sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect your skin this summer. Wearing the right types of clothing and accessories can also boost your summer skin protection efforts. Look for UV blocking fabrics like unbleached cotton, denim, wool, and linen. Brimmed hats and UV protectant sunglasses are also helpful – and a great way to accessorize your favorite summer outfit!
Avoid Overexposure: One of the most important and effective summer skin safety tips everyone should follow is to avoid excessive sun exposure. This is especially important during extreme UV days where there is little cloud coverage or other protections. Likewise, being mindful of how long you are outside in direct sunlight can help prevent lasting damage. Sunburns can occur in as little as 15 minutes but may not become visible until hours later.
Minimizing your time outside during the sun’s peak hours – typically between 10 AM and 4 PM, but especially between 12 PM and 2 PM. If being outdoors is unavoidable during these hours, being vigilant about your protective measures is key. Seek shade where possible to help minimize exposure and stay on top of sunscreen reapplication.
Be Extra Precautious Around Water: Summer fun on the water can be a welcome relief from the heat, but it adds a few extra considerations for your skin protection needs. Light reflected off the water’s surface can increase your sun exposure even if you’re under the cover of an awning or umbrella. UV rays also penetrate below the water’s surface, meaning it can still damage your skin while swimming or diving.
If you’re planning a day on the water this summer, be sure your sunscreen is waterproof and reapplied at least every two hours or as needed. Likewise, rash guards, wetsuits, and other fuller coverage swimwear can offer additional protection.
Get Regular Skin Exams: Taking the above listed measures help to reduce your risks of skin cancer, but there is no way to fully negate your chances of developing the disease. That’s why getting annual skin exams is so important. While skin cancers are among the most common forms of cancer in the United States, they also have the highest rates of survival when detected during the early stages.
Make yearly skin exams part of your preventative care regimen. A thorough exam performed by a highly trained dermatologist can detect even the earliest signs of trouble, giving you access to a number of treatment options that may not be available in later stages. Our Center for Skin Cancer offers industry-leading skin cancer care provided by world-class physicians specializing in all forms of skin cancer. You couldn’t be in better hands.