It’s Labor Day. Summer is unofficially over. If you or your kids aren’t back in school already, they’ll more than likely start very soon. It’s time to put away the beach towel, the boogie boards and the sunscreen, right?
Wrong! Okay…the beach towel and boogie board can get stowed away, but that sunscreen needs to remain in your medicine cabinet or bathroom counter! Even though the hot summer sun won’t be shining so high in the sky, it still emits those UV rays that damage your skin.
Many people associate heat with sun exposure. If it’s not hot, the sun can’t be causing any harm…right? The truth is sun exposure can be damaging even in the cold winter months. While UVB rays, which cause burning, are weaker in the mornings and afternoons as well as the non-summer months, UVA rays are at their full intensity. Yep…UVA rays are as strong in mid-winter as mid-summer, from sun-up to sun down.
UVA rays are more commonly associated with aging and wrinkling. They also penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays (thus not associated with burning as much). This deeper penetration causes significant and irreversible damage to your skin that may not be noticed for months or years down the road. It’s important to protect yourself year round!
How? Use sunscreen, but be well aware of what your sunscreen protects. The SPF rating of a sunscreen indicates its ability to protect against UVB rays. The SPF rating has no bearing on how well you’re protected against UVA rays! It’s important to use a sunscreen that is “broad spectrum” or offers UVA/UVB protection. Otherwise, you may not be protected from UVA rays at all!
Even if you have the right sunscreen, it doesn’t offer all the protection you need. That low autumn or winter sun plays havoc on your eyes, especially when driving. Most likely you’ll be wearing sunglasses, but again, it’s important to wear the right type. Did you know that 70% of UVA rays penetrate glass? Yes…even eye glasses and car window glass. Don’t simply by glasses with a darker tint. It’s important to select sunglasses rated with 100% UV protection…these will deflect the UVA rays as well as UVB rays.
As the air gets cooler, you’ll most like wear longer sleeves and slacks. This should provide good sun protection, but don’t forget your exposed neck, face, ears and hands. Apply sunscreen as mentioned before, but also wear a hat. A wide-brimmed hat is preferred over a ball cap in order to protect your neck and ears.
I hope this past summer created great memories while you protected yourself against the sun. But please don’t forget that sun protection is a year-round event. Stay sun safe!