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It’s no secret that the sun is your fiercest enemy where aging is concerned. Ultraviolet (UV) rays cause much more skin damage than sunburns. These harmful rays cause wrinkles, sunspots, other types of photodamage and in the most severe cases, skin cancer. While you can’t control the sun, you can reduce your exposure to the sun to prevent aging and damage to your skin. Keep reading for the five best tips for reducing sun exposure.
You probably hear this at every turn, but that is only because this is the single most important thing you can do to protect your skin from sun damage. And yes, you really do need to use sunscreen every day and not just when it’s sunny because even on overcast days, anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of the sun’s UV rays still penetrate the earth’s surface. Experts recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 25. The term broad-spectrum means that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays, which is important because UVA rays cause aging, while UVB rays primarily do more damage deep in the skin and are the rays that cause skin cancer. If you have sensitive skin and traditional sunscreens irritate your skin, try using a physical sunscreen (one that contains either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient) because these tend to be less irritating to sensitive skin. Use one ounce of sunscreen to cover all exposed areas, and reapply every two hours or sooner if you get wet.
Avoid Peak Hours
Even with the best of sunscreens, you can still be affected by the sun’s rays. One of the best things you can do for your skin to prevent premature aging is to avoid the midday sun when the UV rays are at their most dangerous levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you stay out of the sun between the hours of 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M.
Because it isn’t always possible to stay indoors during these hours, and because sometimes you just want to enjoy the outdoors and beautiful weather, experts advise you to find shade. Taking an umbrella to the beach, finding a tree to sit under or seeking outdoor shelter are all ways that you can escape the midday sun. It is important to note that umbrellas and trees don’t provide 100 percent protection against the sun, so you still want to be sure you are wearing sunscreen and being safe about your sun exposure.
Wear Protective Clothing
When possible, wear clothing that covers your arms and legs and choose fabrics that are tightly woven, as these provide more protection from UV rays. Sometimes it isn’t practical to walk around in long sleeves and jeans, so if you’re heading to a pool party or the beach, be sure that you have a t-shirt or bathing suit cover that you can wear when you aren’t in the water to provide UV protection. Wide-brimmed hats are a great idea to keep the sun away from your face, neck and chest and sunglasses help protect your eyes and eye area from the sun.
Skip Tanning Beds
While tanning beds have gotten a lot of negative attention in the past few years, people still continue to use them and some use them with the misconception that they are safe. Indoor tanning still exposes users to UV rays and is not considered safe at all. Some tanning beds use UVA radiation, some use UVB radiation and some use a combination of the two, but it doesn’t matter which kind you select because all of them expose you to dangerous UV rays. Skip the tanning beds and grab a bottle of a self-tanning product to look like a bronze goddess.
Staying away from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation is one of the absolute most important things you can do to prevent signs of premature aging like wrinkles and sunspots. Always wear sunscreen, and when you are exposed to the sun, be sure you are doing it in a safe and protected way so that you can keep looking as young as you feel.