Summer is here, which for many people means spending more and more time outdoors. Whether you have a few beach trips coming up or plan on spending lots of days at a local park, playing sports or enjoying a picnic, you’ll want to be extra cautious about the amount of sun exposure you get. The sun’s rays not only speed up the aging process, leading to wrinkles and spots. They also increase your risk for skin cancer, which in the best scenarios, can be surgically removed, and in the worst, can be fatal. Keep your skin looking its best and minimize your risk for cancer by doing what you can to shield it from the sun.
What you wear (or don’t wear) can give you a fair amount of protection from the sun’s rays. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, clothes offer the best level of sun protection. They don’t wear off like sunscreen does and you don’t have to keep reapplying them throughout the day. The type of clothing you wear does matter, though, when it comes to sun protection.
Generally, the tighter the weave of the fabric, the more coverage it offers. Synthetics also tend to offer more coverage than natural fibers such as cotton.
The amount of clothing you wear also matters. The days of wearing tiny bikinis on the beach are over. This summer, rash guards and other long sleeved swim tops are actually on trend, and the selection of swimwear that offer Ultraviolet Protection Factor, or UPF, is higher than ever. UPF is somewhat different from SPF. The number refers to the amount of ultraviolet rays the fabric absorbs and keeps from reaching your skin. Some swimwear, particularly rash guards, will list the UPF of their tags.
Don’t Forget the SPF
While clothing will provide some protection from the sun, unless you’re going to cover every area of skin, you don’t want to skip using sunscreen, even on cooler or cloudy days. How effective a sunscreen is is measured by its sun protection factor, or SPF. SPF measures how well a sunscreen can protect your skin from UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburns. An SPF of 15, usually the lowest recommended level, offers 15 times the protection from UVB rays as unprotected skin. If you usually start turning red after 30 minutes in the sun, SPF 15 can keep you from burning for up to 7.5 hours.
There is a caveat to that, though: Most sunscreen products won’t remain on your skin for seven plus hours. A combination of factors, from sweat to water exposure, mean that the sunscreen wears off usually after about two hours, though in some cases after just 40 minutes. That means to really protect your skin from the sun, you’ll want to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, if not more often.
Seek Out Shade
Shady areas can offer some protection from the sun. The protection you get from a beach umbrella or standing under an awning in the middle of a sunny day won’t be as great as the protection offered by sunscreen or clothing, but it can provide some relief. In combination with wearing sunscreen and covering up, sitting or standing in the shade can effectively help protect you from excess sun exposure.
Revitalize Your Skin
While non-surgicaltreatments such as injectables or laser skin resurfacing won’t offer your skin a level of protection from the sun, they can help minimize any visible damage you already have. For example, a laser skin treatment can help stimulate the production of collagen in the lower layer of skin, improving its texture and minimizing lines or wrinkles. Laser treatments can also help reduce areas of hyperpigmentation, or age spots.
Of course, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s rays after any treatment. After a laser treatment, for example, your skin tends to be more sensitive to the effects of UVA and UVB rays. Spending a lot of time outdoors and skipping sunscreen immediately after a laser treatment can lead to hyperpigmentation or a darkening of the skin.
Schedule a Skin Care Consultation Today
To learn more about your skin care options, contact Laser & Cosmetic Surgery Specialists. Dr. Ran Y. Rubinstein is a facial plastic surgeon that can provide the guidance you need. Please contact us either by email or calling 845-863-1772. Dr. Rubinstein’s practice, Laser & Cosmetic Surgery Specialists, has two locations in New York, one in Newburgh and one in Manhattan.
Dr. Rubinstein has been practicing in the Hudson Valley for more than 15 years and specializes in esthetic laser producers, facial plastic surgery, nasal, and sinus disorders. He uniquely combines his medical and surgical expertise to help patients feel better and look better. He holds dual board certification from the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, is a member of the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, and is an Assistant Professor at New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.