Skin is our primary communication tool. It gives us the signals we need to help regulate our body. When we’re cold, we shiver; when hot, we sweat. When we’re exposed to too much sunlight, our skin turns an angry red, and long-term exposure can even bring dark age spots, which are signs of sun damaged skin.

At the end of the day, our skin does a lot for us! So, return the favor (and keep your skin healthy and beautiful) with these guidelines to protect against harmful sun damage and aging effects.

Shade your skin

It can be hard to stay inside, especially in action-packed summers, but be sure to at least keep to the shade whenever you can while outdoors. This is especially true from around 10am to 4pm, when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.

Shady trees and umbrellas provide some relief from the effects of sunlight, although it’s important to remember that sunlight still reflects, especially on the sea and sand. If possible, keep your skin completely shaded by wearing long sleeves and dark clothing, and by using wide-brimmed hats to prevent sun-damaged skin on your face. You can even find hats and clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) labels to ensure you’re getting as much protection as possible against sun-damaged skin.

Use sunscreen—but use it the right way

Sunscreen is the optimal method of protecting your skin, especially if you use it while catching some shade…but not everyone actually uses sunscreen the right way. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Choose a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection if possible, and look for one with 30 SPF or higher.
  2. Use sunscreen daily, even if it looks cloudy! According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate cloud cover.
  3. Use one ounce of sunscreen, enough to fill a shot glass, both when you first apply and on reapplications.
  4. Apply sunscreen in advance! Remember: sunscreen has both physical and chemical blocks. On a physical level, applying sunscreen causes the sun’s rays to bounce off your skin. But on a chemical level, it’s recommended that you apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure to neutralize UVA and UVB rays. Going out into the sun right after applying sunscreen means that you’re unprotected for those first 30 minutes—leading to a very high risk of sun-damaged skin!
  5. Mist it! Some people prefer spray sunscreens, as they feel and look great and are easy to apply. Plus, you can even protect your hair from bleaching with a light mist. However, remember to rub in mists and sprays for total skin coverage, so no areas are overlooked.
  6. Possibly the most important: don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen every two hours!

While we’re out in the sun, our skin is busy regulating our body temperature, keeping bacteria away, and (of course) holding us together! So make sure to respect your skin by taking protective measures against sun damage, and by seeking out sun-damaged skin repair if needed. Don’t put out the welcome mat for cancer!