The Ultimate Guide To Sun Protection [Includes The 5 S’s Of Sun Safety]

The Ultimate guide for Sun Safety for Summer

Who doesn't like to soak up in the warmth of the sun?

Enjoying your day at the beach and having fun outdoors is great, but it's equally important that you do it safely with sun protection.

Are you thinking as to why you should care about sun protection?

Well, when you are exposed to the sun for prolonged periods, ultraviolet rays from the sun (UVA & UVB) causes damage to your skin.

The damages can be in the form of sunburns, dark spots, sagging skin, wrinkles, and in the worst case, can be a primary reason for the deadliest skin cancer.

Do you know, By the age of 70, One in five Americans will develop Skin Cancer. (Source).

Ouch! Doesn’t it sound scary?

Not to mention, it will damage your eyes as well by raising the risk of cataracts.

That's why it is very important to include sun protection as the main essence into your daily skincare routine.

Sun protection

No matter how fair or dark your skin tone is or which season it is, you must make sure to include sun protection each and every day.

But how do we tackle the situation knowing that we are subjected to sun’s harmful rays most of the time?

To help you lean more on the side of safety, we've rounded up some sun protection tips.

The tips are easier to follow and no matter wherever you are, they will keep you ultimately safe without spoiling your fun in the sun.

Let's get started!

You must have heard of the 'Five S of  Sun Safety'. If not, The 'Five S of Sun Safety' is the best solution that one can take up to protect themselves from the harmful radiations.

The 'Five S' refers to Slip, Slap, Slide, Seek and Slop.

1. SLIP on a sun protection clothing

Sun Protection Clothing

Clothing is the best means of sun protection against harmful radiations of the sun.

It is one of the most simple, effective and convenient methods to protect yourself from the sun.

Long-sleeved shirts with high neckline or collar, full pants and long skirts provide the best sun protection as it covers most of your skin.

It might not be fashionable, but looking dull and aged is not fashionable either.

To put it in very simpler terms, the more you cover yourself, the more youthful you will look in the long run.

However, not all clothes are the same, as different clothes provide different levels of UV protection.

So, what type of clothing are sun-safe?

Choosing a sun protection clothing:

  • Thicker and darker colored clothes offer more sun protection than thinner and lighter colored clothes as they absorb more UV rays.
  • Likewise, tightly woven fabric (Polyester, Lycra and Nylon) blocks more sun than loosely woven fabric. The reason is very simple - Open weaves will allow more UV light to pass through.
  • Also, wet clothing is less protective than dry clothing as wet clothing is transparent and more exposed to the sun.

At a basic level, you can test by holding a piece of cloth in the light.

If you can see light through the fabric then the chances of the UV rays to get through it and reach your skin is very high. The more light it blocks, the better.

Therefore, to make your job easier, many brands have launched sun protective clothing that bears an UPF label.

Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF)

The sun protective clothes come with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) label.

The UPF indicates the level of protection the garment provides against the UV rays of sun on a scale of 15 to 50+.

As an  example, If a sun protective garment bears a rating of UPF 25, it indicates that the garment will allow only 1/25th of the available UV radiation to pass through. This also means that approximately not more than 4 percent of the UV radiation will reach our skin.

Similarly, A garment which allows less than 2 percent of the UV radiation to pass through is labeled as UPF 50+.

Hence, Higher UPF ratings indicate more sun protection. So always look for clothing that has a higher UPF factor.

Besides, these clothes are also lightweight and very comfortable.

Therefore, the very first and the simplest of all the sun protection tips is covering up with the right clothing.

2. SLAP on a broad-brimmed hat

Sun Protective Hat

According to the statistics of Skin Cancer Foundation, One third of skin cancer occur above the neck (Source).

This is because the skin on your face, ears and neck is much thinner, sensitive and hence, is more prone to sun damage.

So, what is the best effective yet at the same time very simple strategy to protect these part that are more inclined to receive the harmful UV radiations?

Unanimously, the answer cannot be anything else other than HATS.

Wide-brimmed hats or Neck shield style hats work the best as they cover up larger areas.

Factors to consider when choosing sun protection hats:

  • In order to ensure adequate sun protection choose Broad-Brimmed Hats with at least a 2-3 inch brim all around as it creates good shade and protects your face, head, neck, eyes, and ears.
  • Go for the Bucket Hats that has a deep crown and that sits closer to the face as it offers better protection.
  • If you prefer Legionnaire Style Hats, go for those that have a flap which will provide better covers to the neck and the sides of the face.
  • Finally, make sure the hat is cool and comfortable at the same time.

Materials to count on:

Coming to the materials, suggestions mentioned for the Sun Protection Clothing applies for Hats as well.

Apart from that,

  • Prefer thicker and darker colored hats. As these offer more UV protection whereas light colors will allow more light to pass through and reach your face.
  • Go for tightly woven hats that block enough sun rays.
  • Strictly avoid Straw hats with holes that let sun's radiation to pass through easily.
  • Baseball caps are not a good choice for everyday sun protection. These hats protect only your scalp and forehead but neither the neck nor the ears. 

If you are the one who still thinks that baseball caps are the coolest of all, then make sure to cover your ears and the back of your neck either by wearing the sun protective clothing or by using a broad spectrum sunscreen which we will discuss in the later stage of this article.

Ultraviolet sun protective hat:

Like clothing, researchers came with Sun Protection Hats that contains built-in Ultraviolet protection factor.

Choose the hat whose UPF factor ranges from 30 to 50 as it offers excellent protection.

As you know the mantra - More UPF is proportionate to more protection.

Hats are attractive, stylish and more importantly, protective as well. So get yourself a head-turning collection of sun protection hats for every season of the year to keep sun rays at bay.

3. SLIDE on sunglasses

Sunglass

The hyper-receptive part of your face, Eyes take a heavy toll because of exposure to the Sun.

Just like your skin, even your eyes are sensitive to UV (UVA and UVB) rays of the sun.

While UVA rays damage your retina and affect your central vision, UVB rays can cause cataracts resulting in corneal sunburn.

The Sun’s UV Radiations account directly for atleast 10 percent of the cataract cases in the United States. As an added shock, it is unbelievably true that more than one million operations take place to remove cataracts in the United States alone every year (Source).

Besides, the skin around your eyes is too delicate and more prone to sun damage leading to skin cancer.

In specific, 5-10 percent of all the skin cancers happen in the eyelid (mostly lower lid) alone as it is the most sensitive of all (Source).

Hence to avoid the side-effects caused by UV radiations to the eyes, wearing a sunglass is the best option. 

Not just your eyes, but sunglass also protects the tender skin around your eyes. Hence, more the sunglasses cover the sides of your eyes, the better.

During windy days, as an added advantage apart from sun protection, sunglass also helps in shooing away sand and dirt out of your eyes.

Factors to consider when choosing sunglasses:

It is official that many people still purchase a sunglass on the basis of style and comfort. They fail to make sure if the lenses are UVA/UVB protective by checking the label.

As a matter fact, the reality - Only 31 percent of the Americans use sunglasses or any other form of UV protective eyewear when they are outdoors (Source).

Hence, while choosing sunglasses, remember the following points.

  • Choose sunglasses that are clearly labeled as UV-blocking with a UVA/UVB rating of 100%.
  • Color is irrelevant for sunglasses in terms of UV ratings. UV coating is clear, and therefore, it does not affect the color of the sunglasses.
  • Wrap-around sunglasses work the best as they cover the entire eye-socket and the surrounding areas. This blocks the UV rays from sneaking in through the sides.
NOTE:

Never give a thought that sunglasses with dark-tinted lenses provide more UV protection. The UV protection comes from an invisible chemical coating applied to the lenses and not from the color or darkness of the lenses.

Therefore, even with light color tinted lenses (such as yellow, green and amber), sunglasses can offer the same UV protection as very dark lenses.

ANSI ratings of sunglasses:

Before you buy a sunglass, always look for ANSI ratings.

Basically, Sunglasses are manufactured in accordance with ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards and fall within the following 3 categories:

CATEGORY
UVA BLOCKAGE
UVB BLOCKAGE
Cosmetic
70%
60%
General
95%
60%
Special Purpose Intense Sunlight
(A special category of sunglass that is best for tropical use)
99%
98%
CATEGORY OF SUNGLASSES
Cosmetic
UVA BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
70%
UVB BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
60%

General
UVA BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
95%
UVB BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
60%

Special Purpose Intense Sunlight
(A special category of sunglass that is best for tropical use)
UVA BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
99%
UVB BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
98%

NOTE: If there is no label, don't assume the sunglasses provide any UV protection.

Final Do's and Don'ts:

While selecting sunglasses for children, choose a smaller versions of real and protective sunglasses, not toy glasses. Toy glass is merely a toy and they do not have any UV protection.

Besides, few contact lenses are now manufactured to block most UV rays. However, they are not sufficient for eye protection as they fail to cover the entire eye area.

So, make sure to wear sunglasses with UV protection even while wearing contact lenses.

Lastly, remember that sunglasses are the most effective when worn with a wide-brim hat and sunscreen.

When it comes to eyes and it's surrounding skin, a good quality sunglass with a higher UV protection rating is the best defense.

Therefore, next time, when you are heading out don't forget to keep a pair of sunglass in your purse or pool bag.

4. SEEK shade

Seek Shade

The most obvious way of sun protection is by limiting yourself from sun exposure.

Avoid being outdoors under direct sunlight for too long, particularly, when the sun is at its strongest between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

It is good to appreciate staying indoors and limit your exposure at these hours to avoid the most intense UV radiations of the sun.

If outdoors, then seek shade in any of the following forms.

  • Carrying an Umbrella.
  • Staying under a tree.
  • Staying under the shade of a building or taller objects.
  • Umbrella
    Using Blinds for the windows at home.
  • Umbrella
    Using Sun Shades when inside a car.
  • Umbrella
    Taking a Cabana when going to the beach.

DON'T GET FOOLED ON A CLOUDY DAY!

Ultraviolet radiations are so strong that they can easily penetrate through cloud cover, windows or car glasses. This is the reason why you get sunburns even on a cloudy or hazy day.

Hence, don't get deceived by taking a cloudy day for granted.

5. SLOP on sunscreen

Applying Sunscreen

Sunscreen is the last line of defense against sun radiations.

Sunscreen is an undeniable product that all of us should use in order to protect our skin from harmful UV radiations.

By slathering on sunscreen before going out, you will prevent your skin from various skin problems. These problems include tanning, dark spots, aging and also more serious concerns like skin cancers.

Therefore, applying sunscreen should be one among your daily skincare routine.

Choosing the right sunscreen:

Sunscreens come in a variety of forms – Lotions, creams, gels, sticks, wipes, sprays and so on.

There are also terms like SPF, UVA and UVB to consider.

Don't go head spinning around to know how to choose the best screen.

Let’s decode all these terms and other factors now and know how to select the right sunscreen.

Decoding the label:

UVA/UVB

Ultraviolet radiations are of two types.

  • UVA - Responsible for skin damage like aging, wrinkles and sagging.
  • UVB - Responsible for tanning, sunburn, dark spots.

However, both UVA and UVB rays contribute to skin cancer.

Hence, it is important to choose a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum as it protects your skin against both UVA and UVB rays.

SPF

When you're looking for a sunscreen, it should not only be broad-spectrum, but it should also have a SPF of 30 or higher.

Firstly, What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. SPF is the ability of the sunscreen to protect your skin from the Ultraviolet radiations. Higher SPF numbers indicate more sun protection.

SPF Rating
UVB BLOCKAGE
15
94%
30
97%
50
98%
SPF DETAILS
SPF15
UVB BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
94%

SPF30
UVB BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
97%

SPF50
UVB BLOCKAGE PERCENTAGE
98%

Most dermatologists recommend going for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or SPF 30.

WHY SHOULD YOU NOT USE A SUNSCREEN WITH VERY HIGHER SPF?

  • Sunscreen with higher SPF does not offer significantly higher protection from harmful radiations than a SPF 15 or SPF 30 sunscreen.
  • A good sunscreen should provide UVA Protection atleast 1/3 times to that of the UVB Protection. The higher SPF sunscreen provides very higher UVB protection than UVA protection which is all against the full protection condition (Source).
  • Lastly, higher SPF sunscreens demand higher prices.

Be mindful of ingredients:

The ingredients in the sunscreen tend to break down very easily causing allergic reactions especially for those who have sensitive skin. So, be very careful while choosing your sunscreen.

The sunscreens which contain Para-Amino Benzoic Acid (PABA) and Benzophenones cause allergic reactions. Therefore, prefer sunscreens without these chemicals and that are absolutely gentle on your skin.

Always check for expiration date:

Before purchasing a sunscreen, check for its expiration date.

Not just the sunscreens, whenever you purchase any product make a habit to check the date of manufacture and expiration.

The fresher the sunscreen, the better the efficiency of the product.

If you use outdated sunscreen, then it will break down resulting in acne or any other allergic reactions.

Hence, it is important to buy the freshest stock possible.

Applying sunscreen the right way:

Now that you know how to choose the right sunscreen, the next step is to apply it in the correct way.

  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen. The average-sized adult needs one ounce of sunscreen or a golf ball-sized amount to cover every part of the body exposed to the sun. This mainly includes your face, neck, shoulders, hands and feet. And of course, any other body part that are exposed to the Sun.
  • Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Sunscreen wears off after just a couple of hours. So make sure to re-apply it again for every two hours. If you are into swimming or sweating excessively, then apply it more often.

Sorry, Sun!

Sorry, Sun

Sun Exposure do not just offer negative health benefits as you read everywhere.

In fact, a research by the University of Edinburgh, UK, suspected that the benefits of Heart Health outweighs the risk of skin cancer because of sun exposure (Source).

This proves that Sun Exposure is equally good for your health.

Hence, staying indoors with a thought of hiding from the harmful Sun radiations will bring in more harm to you than good.

Benefits of Sun exposure

Sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D:

Vitamin D intake is as important to a healthy skin as that of your regular skin care routine.

Also, Vitamin D helps your body from the risk of other types of cancers significantly. This is because Vitamin D prevents the tendency of cancer cells to reproduce and spread.

There are other benefits of Vitamin D in the likes of whitening teeth, keeping the skin and hair very healthy naturally and many more.

But do you know the reality?

According to the reports, in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Asia, 30 to 50% of Children and Adults are Vitamin D deficient. Not just stopping there, the sunniest parts of the world that includes Middle East Countries, Turkey, India and Iran have the higher number of Vitamin D deficient people (Source).

Why? The Sole reason – Low Exposure to Sun!

Yes, you get 90% of your Vitamin D from Sunlight and the rest, a meager 10% through your diet (Source).

Sunlight kills bacteria:

Sunlight is a Natural Skin Protection agent. It is very much capable of disinfecting and healing wounds.

Sun exposure lowers blood pressure and reduces heart diseases:

As your body gets exposed to sunlight, a compound called Nitric Oxide is released into your blood vessels.

This very useful compound reduces blood pressure which in turn prevents heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular issues.

Sun Exposure boosts bone health and simulates brain function:

When sunlight comes in contact with your skin, Vitamin D is induced in your body.

The Vitamin D eases the formation of Vitamin D3, a fat soluble vitamin. Vitamin D3 is very good at calcium absorption which strengthens your bones.

By the same token, a study reveals that sun exposure improves Brain function as well (Source). Thanks to Vitamin D again.

Other benefits of Sun exposure:

There are many more countless benefits of sun exposure. 

Some of them includes but not limited to,

  • Healing skin disorders particularly Psoriasis (Source)
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Helps you get more sleep
  • Relaxes you during depression
  • Eases the symptoms of Dementia (Source)
  • Improves your child’s growth

The Bottom Line

As mentioned, Sunlight is very helpful to our physical and mental well-being.

It is an absolute stupid error if we disregard it completely. At the same time, it is not very right to take it for granted as well.

No one knows your skin better than YOU!

Give it some sun exposure and more of sun protection if you have a sensitive skin. Else take both with equal balance and THAT IS THE WAY!

You can know your skin type through this article here: How to know my skin type.

So, the Bottom line: When it comes to sun safety, a little care is really better than pounds of cure.

There you go – You got everything now, make good use of it and be in your Sweet Sixteen forever!

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