Take Action: Cover Up

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, you may be planning a full three days of being outdoors—basking in the sun; at the beach; at a barbeque or at the park. Since you will be out in the bright and shiny sun’s rays, you will want to take these simple steps to help prevent skin cancer.

Cover up with long sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants or a long skirt. Clothes made from tightly woven fabrics are best.

Wear a hat. A hat with a wide brim that protects your face and neck works best. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. If you wear a baseball cap or visor, be sure to protect your ears and the back of your neck with sunscreen.

Wear sunglasses that block UV light. This will help protect your eyes and the skin around them from sun damage. Wrap-around sunglasses are best, because they block UV rays from the side.

Stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The sun’s rays are the strongest from mid-morning to late afternoon. Try to stay out of the sun during these hours. If you are outside, stay in the shade – like under a tree or umbrella.

Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 or higher. Use sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection, also called broad spectrum sunscreen. My dermatologist recommends using a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad spectrum coverage. My favorite sunscreen that meets all of those requirements is Sun Shades Sport. Sun Shades Sport’s principal ingredient is Avobenzone. Avobenzone gives my skin a highly effective broad spectrum protection. The photostablized avobenzone maintains its UVA protective power even during long periods of sun exposure. I especially like that I can spray it on and it sticks!

One thing you always need to do is check the expiration date on the bottle to make sure it’s not out of date—especially if you found a bottle from last summer.

To get the most protection:

  • Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days. UV rays can still harm your skin through the clouds.
  • Plan ahead – put sunscreen on 30 minutes before you go outside. Put on more sunscreen every 2 hours and after you swim or sweat.
  • Be sure to use enough sunscreen (a handful). Don’t forget to apply it to your ears, hands, feet, the back of your neck, and any part of your scalp that isn’t covered by hair.
  • Use lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips.
  • If you wear very lightweight clothing (like a beach cover-up or thin T-shirt), put sunscreen on under your clothes.

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