by Sher Agency
- minute read
- 2 Min Video
Living in the desert has its advantages. One of those is the seemingly ever-present desert sunshine. We have almost 330 cloudless days here in Las Vegas. The sun feels good and allows for a bevy of outdoor activity, but can also be your worst enemy. We know a long day outside can lead to a nasty sunburn, but it’s not just those big events that cause trouble. Sun damage is cumulative, so each time you get the mail, walk the dog, or watch your child’s soccer game without the proper protection, the sun damage can add up, and lead to the development of skin cancer.
Let’s talk sun protection so we can keep enjoying those great outdoor activities. It’s important to always remember that no one method protects you 100%. We recommend you utilize multiple tools from your sun protection tool kit to help keep you and your family safe.
1. Keep covered up – clothing is a great way to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays from the sun. New technology has provided many high-tech fabrics which are light, breathable, and even stylish. Think about wide brim hats, sunglasses, and long sleeves. The more skin you can keep covered and protected, the healthier your skin will be. Think about rash guards or long sleeves swim shirts for those fun days on the lake or at the pool! UPF stands for “Ultraviolet Protection Factor,” and you may see this label as you shop for clothes. A shirt labeled UPF 50 allows 1/50th of UV radiation through. There are many stylish, comfortable options on the market that will help keep you safe all year long.
2. Keep cool in the shade – seek shade! Especially between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is at its most powerful. Walk on the shady side of the street, sit under an umbrella or a tree. And remember, the UV rays from the sun can reflect off of water, sand, glass, snow, and even concrete, so just being in the shade isn’t 100% protective. Don’t let this be your only form of protection.
3. Littles ones – babies under 6 months old have very sensitive skin and should be kept out of the sun. Even “baby” sunscreens can be very irritating to their skin that young. Babies can overheat very quickly as well. As adults, we have a built-in cooling system which makes us sweat when we get hot, but babies do not so it is very important to keep them cool and protected from the sun.
Toddlers should wear protective clothing and sunscreen formulated for children beginning at 6 months old. Avoid sprays as these can be inhaled by little ones, or get in the eyes. (TIP: apply sunscreen to the face using a clean make up brush)
4. Be window wary — glass blocks UVB rays well, but UVA (the rays that are most responsible for aging and sagging skin) pass right through window glass. Protect yourself and those you love by wearing sunscreen and sun protective clothing and eye wear while on the road. UV-protective film can be applied to your windows at home or in the car for added protection.
5. “Fake, Don’t Bake” – don’t ever use tanning beds! Aside from the leathery, aged looking skin they cause, using a tanning bed can increase your risk of melanoma by up to 75%. Use spray on tans to get the golden glow. CAUTION: a fake tan offers no sun protection, so wear sunscreen and protective clothing as usual.
6. Sunscreen School – with so many sunscreen options available, how do you know which sunscreen is best for you? The simple answer is, whichever one you will use regularly! The most important thing to remember, no matter which brand or formulation of sunscreen that you choose, is that it should be worn every day. Cloudy, rainy, sunny, whatever; wear your sunscreen every day. Make it a habit. Yes, UV rays from the sun can pass right through the clouds and you can get burned ever on a cloudy day.
Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen (it will say right on the bottle if it is) with a minimum SPF (sun protection factor) of 30, and reapply every 2 hours. You may have to apply more frequently if you are swimming or sweating. Sunscreen in your makeup is helpful, but isn’t enough to get the job done properly, so add a sunscreen to your routine, even if your makeup contains it already. The average adult needs about a shot glass full of sunscreen to adequately cover their body.
Mineral VS Chemical: Mineral sunscreens sit on the surface and reflect rays away from the skin. The active ingredients are usually zinc or titanium. You can put this sunscreen on immediately before going outside. This is a great option for those with sensitive skin and for children. They tend to leave a white residue, so if this is a concern, look for a tinted formula that blends into your skin.
Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin and then absorb harmful UV rays. Common active ingredients are oxybenzone, octocrylene or homosalate. These sunscreens need to be applied about 15 minutes before you go outside.
Dr. Mac Machan
Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgeon