- Protecting Your Skin from the Sun
- Are You Beach-Ready? Get Essential Summer Safety Tips
- Water Wisdom
- 7 Hot Tips for Supple Summer Skin
- 5 Ways to Protect Your Eyes From the Sun
- Stay Healthy While Traveling
- Get Outside and Walk
- Heat Emergencies: Knowing the Symptoms and How to React
- 3 Pool Exercises That Won't Embarrass You
- Mosquito-Borne Illnesses: What They Are and How to Prevent Them
- Outdoor Food Safety: Don't Let Spoiled Dishes Ruin Your Barbecue
- Hot Weather and Exercise: How to Safely Sweat It Out in the Summer
- Lyme Disease: How to Avoid It and How to Spot It
Protecting Your Skin from the Sun
Remember when we thought slathering on baby oil to promote tanning was doing something good for our skin?
These days, a dizzying number of sunscreens and sunblocks cram stores' shelves, promising protection from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. If you don't have a PhD in chemistry, reading and understanding the ingredients lists on those bottles is nearly impossible.
Yet shielding your body from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light is vital, in any weather or season. Both types of UV rays—UVA and UVB—are invisible and damaging, causing sunburn, premature aging and skin cancer. Cloudy days are no protection, since UV rays penetrate clouds. And with the earth's ozone layer thinning, solar radiation is increasing. So are all types of skin cancer, including the most serious—malignant melanoma.
Still, many of us think about using sunscreen only when we're heading out to the beach or pool. Even then, the average U.S. adult uses less than one bottle a year. That's a mistake. UV rays do their damage anytime. They can pass through window glass or reflect off concrete and snow as well as sand and water. Artificial sources of UV light, as in tanning booths, are also dangerous.
"The more sun you get, the more likely you are to get damage and potentially increase the development of melanoma and skin cancer," says Diane S. Berson, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Cornell University Weill Medical College in New York City. "We recommend that people wear sun protection every day."
Do different people get more or less damage?
The lighter your skin, the more quickly you'll burn. But darker-skinned people, who tend to tan rather than burn, are still getting UV-caused damage.
You're likely to be more sensitive to UV rays if you: