Soaking up some rays is an ideal way to spend a summer day. But if you’re going for beautiful skin in the long run, managing sun exposure is critical.
“The number one thing that causes [skin] problems is the sun,”Janellen Smith, dermatology professor at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine, told HuffPost. “So if you can protect yourself from the sun, that is a good thing for longevity of your skin.”
Too much sun exposure over time can lead to a higher risk of skin cancer and premature signs of aging like wrinkles. Luckily, there are a few ways to protect your body (and they don’t involve shielding yourself from the outdoors).
Check out Smith’s tips below on how to enjoy the sunshine but still keep your skin healthy for years to come:
Use sunscreen and reapply it often, especially after sweating, swimming or toweling off, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You should also make sure your lotion has an SPF of at least 15, but it wouldn’t hurt to do more.
“Most people don’t actually put on enough, so we like to say 30 SPF,” Smith said. As a rule of thumb, she recommends applying one ounce of sunscreen from head to toe, which is about the size of a shot glass.
Clothing is considered the first line of defense against the sun, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. But a loose, open weave shirt won’t cut it. The best sun protective clothing has a thick, tight weave, such as denim or twill. But denim? In the summer? It probably makes you sweat just thinking about it.
Some companies like Coolibar and Cabana Life make clothes with an ultraviolet protection factor, which is the measurement of UV rays that can penetrate the skin while wearing the garment. In theory, a tunic with UPF of 50 would allow only one-fiftieth of the sun’s UV radiation to get to your skin.
Of course, you can also always wear what you’ve got. If you play an outside sport like golf or tennis, consider lightweight shirts with long sleeves.
Hats with a brim are a better choice for skin longevity than a baseball cap, Smith said. Wider-brim hats not only shade the face, but the back of the neck and ears.
It’s also a good idea to invest in some shades. The skin around your eyes is very tender and easily damaged by sun exposure, according to the CDC. So keep that area covered and reap the benefits in the long run.
Drinking plenty of water can help keep the skin healthy and hydrated. And a consistent moisturizing routine can help trap water in, too. Smith recommends applying moisturizer within 15 to 20 minutes after you get out of the shower. (Bonus points if you use a product with SPF in it.)
Research shows that nutritional deficiencies can cause dry, flaky skin. And while most diets for perfect complexion are pretty bogus, it’s a good idea to consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oils and fats, Smith said. This guarantees you’re staying healthy from the inside out.
Take these tips to heart and then enjoy your time outdoors, whether that’s gardening, swimming or just a stroll through the neighborhood. Research shows that spending time outside can help people age more gracefully.