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The sun provides important benefits like vitamin D, but too much sun can be a health risk. Unhealthy sun exposure can cause drying and aging in our skin, but more dangerously can cause skin cancer. Sun safety is always important, but in the summer months with increased sun exposure and severity it is especially important to be vigilant. Many know to protect from the sun on our skin’s surface, but don’t realize that what we put IN our bodies is just as important as what we put ON our skin. Here are some ways we can protect our largest organ:

 

Apply sunscreen

While this may seem obvious to many, there is no one-sunscreen-fits all. Those who have darker skin have more melanin than those with lighter skin, which provides greater protection from the sun, and therefore those with darker skin may not need as much sunscreen. Generally, children should wear an SPF of 30 or greater, and adults should wear at least SPF 15. Be sure to choose a sunscreen with natural ingredients and that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals to further protect your skin.

Protective wear and gear

Wearing hats to protect your face and neck, and rash guards (or swim shirts) while swimming can help protect from too much sun exposure. Using a beach tent will also provide shade and give your body a break from the sun.

Plan your exposure

If you are wanting to absorb some vitamin D, spending between 10-30 minutes in the sun midday should be enough for the day. This timing varies by person and skin tone; lighter skin needs less time to absorb an adequate amount of vitamin D, darker skin needs more. If you are wanting to spend long periods of time outside, going out when the sun is not as severe will decrease your risk of sunburn. The time when the sun is most severe is typically between 11am-4pm, so try to plan outside time for before or after that timeframe.

Wear makeup with SPF

If you are simply going out on a daily basis, be sure to wear foundation, CC cream, or moisturizer with SPF to protect your face, as this will help protect from sun damage and aging. Your facial skin tends to be more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body, and needs greater protection measures.

 

Eat whole foods, healthy fats, and antioxidants

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help protect our skin from the summer sun and decrease the risk of sunburn, which can in turn decrease the risk of skin cancer. We can do this by limiting things like processed foods and sugars, and upping our intake of healthy omega-3 fats (example: walnuts, flaxseeds), leafy greens, berries, and even dark chocolate.

Listen to your body and take a break from the sun when needed, and prepare before going out in the sun so you can be as safe as possible while still enjoying yourself. And of course, have FUN!