Whenever possible, stay out of the sun for long periods of time, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when rays are strongest. Protect exposed skin all year round. Wear sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 to 30, depending on the season and length of exposure. Longsleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats provide some protection. Remember, the sun penetrates through loosely woven and wet clothing very easily, so wear sunscreen even when covered. Avoid tanning beds.
There is no such thing as safe tanning. Wear sunglasses that wrap around the eyes and have 100 percent UV-blocking lenses. Most sunscreens are too harsh to use on the sensitive area around the eyes. Select a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, sometimes labeled as broad-spectrum sunscreen. Many popular sunscreens will not adequately protect your skin from these harmful rays.
Apply liberally—about one teaspoon of sunscreen to your face and at least one ounce (about a shot glass) to your body each day. The face and hands are high-risk areas for cancer, so apply liberally to those areas. If you have sensitive skin, use a cream-based product, and avoid sunscreens with tretinoin (Retin-A, Stieva-A, Retisol-A, Rejuva-A, Renova, Vitamin A acid), which dries the skin. Look for a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic sunscreen if you have any allergies to skin products.
Waterproof and water-resistant sunscreens are good if you are involved in swimming or sports. Waterproof products work for ninety minutes; protection with water-resistant sunscreens lasts thirty minutes. They need to be applied/reapplied twenty minutes before entering the water so that the product can bond with the skin. Those who work out of doors might need frequent application of a sunscreen with a high SPF. UVA rays are reflected from all light surfaces, including water, sand, snow, ice, and even concrete.
Children younger than six months old should not wear sunscreen but instead be covered and kept out of the sun. Exposure to the sun produces the formation of molecules in the skin called free radicals. These molecules attack healthy skin cells, damaging and interfering with the production of new collagen. With the destruction of collagen fibers and hyaluronic acid molecules—both of which are responsible for preserving the volume and resiliency of the skin—skin loses its firmness, resulting in wrinkles.
The sun can also damage the eyes and affect the immune system. UV rays can damage white blood cells and Langerhans cells, both essential to the skin’s ability to fight viruses and other diseases. For more information and to learn of new developments in sunscreen protection, these Web sites, listed recently in a New York Times article, might prove helpful