Sun safety is always in season, no matter the weather. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays reflect off surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow and can reach you on cloudy and cool days. It is important to protect your skin from excess sun exposure year round to prevent sunburn, premature skin aging, eye damage, and skin cancer, the most common of all cancers.
People of all skin colors are at risk for sun damage to the body. You can reduce your risks of sun damage by sticking to the following sun safety essentials:
- Shade -You can reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer by staying in the shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter. This is particularly important between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV light is strongest
- Clothing - When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts, which can provide protection from UV rays. If long sleeves and pants are not practical, try to wear a t-shirt or a beach cover-up. Some clothing is certified to offer some UV protection.
- Hat - Wear a hat that has a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and the back of your neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. If you wear a baseball cap, you should also protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using sunscreen, or staying in the shade.
- Sunglasses - Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce your risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure. Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.
- Sunscreen - Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or higher before you go outside. Put a thick layer on all exposed skin and get help for hard-to-reach places like your back. Sunscreen is not recommended for babies who are 6 months old or younger. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping infants out of the sun during midday and using protective clothing if they must be in the sun.
- Reapplication - Sunscreen wears off. Remember to reapply if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Also check your sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than 3 years. Its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
For additional resources and information on sun safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Sun Safety page.