Girl in hat at the beach

Sun Protection: Shade Vs. Sunblock

Sunblock talks a pretty good game. You may have heard of SPFs as high as 75, melt- in sunscreens, continuous sun comfort sprays and even melanin-inducing sunblocks and screens. But how can you be sure that all your sunscreen is really working? Did you apply enough? Did you miss any spots? It’s enough to make you think you’re better off just using your own methods of avoiding sun exposure, like just staying in the shade. Of course, the shade is a good option, it definitely cuts down on direct sunlight, but is it a better alternative than sunblock? Here are some things you should know before you give up on sun lotions altogether.

Shade
According to the National Skin Cancer foundation, the guideline is, if you can see the sunlight, seek the shade; but know that not all shade is created equally. You can spend hours in the shade and still receive quite a good amount of sun exposure. Indirect UV light is radiation that has been scattered in the atmosphere and bounced back by UV reflective surfaces, like sand and concrete. As a result, most of the UV light we get sitting under an umbrella or tree is indirect. Only when we are in deep shade, meaning we are unable to see the sky, can we be assured of complete protection.

Hats
Even if you wear a hat, you may only be getting minimal sun protection, especially on your neck, nose, and ears. Hats with all around broad brims angled downward provide the most comprehensive sun protection. Research shows that wearing a broad brimmed hat will provide sunblock protection comparable to a sunblock with and SPF of 5 for the nose, ears and neck, while baseball caps may offer the same for the nose, but little for the other parts of the face, like the cheeks and chin.

Umbrella

Umbrellas
Unless your umbrella is very large, their UV protection is relatively low. Although the SPF of an umbrella can range for 3-106, the amount of UV light under the umbrella can be as high as 84% of that in direct sun. In other words, because so much UV light is reflected under the umbrella from the water, sand, and sky, an umbrella on the beach offers very little protection against the sun.

Trees
If you are looking to a tree to defend you from the sun, look for ones with large, rather than sparse spreads of foliage, and, if possible, choose a tree located near other trees or buildings and note factors that may decrease the amount of protection, such as reflective surfaces. Also note that the same tree will give less protection in the early and late parts of the day, when the diffuse UV rates are higher, than it will at midday, when the sun is directly overhead. Similarly, trees offer better protection on a sunny day than on a cloudy one, when indirect sunlight is greater.

Other Elements
Because you are never guaranteed full UV protection from shade alone, it is important to employ a comprehensive program for sun protection, including wearing clothing made of dark or bright colored tightly woven threads, hats, and sunglasses, and regularly using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more. Be aware of sunscreens claiming higher than an SPF over 30. According to dermatologist James Spencer, an SPF 15 product will block approximately 94% of UV rays, while an SPF 30 blocks about 97%: and SPF 45 blocks about 98% and, “after that, it just gets silly.”

What do you think? Do you swear by your parasols or can you trust your sunblock? Let us know!

Woman holding sunscreen

Save Your Skin From the Sun

Don’t leave your skin vulnerable to sun damage this summer! Follow these simple steps to keep your skin safe, so the only thing you have to worry about this summer is finding a good chair at the pool and an ice cold beverage.

Layer
Don’t expect your makeup to serve as your only protection! Use a moisturizer with SPF 30 as well as a foundation or tinted moisturizer with sun protection. Also, give your moisturizer some time to really sink into the skin before you move on to your primer- you don’t want to risk wiping off your protection when you move on to the next step of your routine!

Reapply
Most sunscreens will only protect your skin for a few hours- especially if you are at the pool or the beach! You should reapply your SPF a few times a day- or every 80 minutes if you are swimming or sweating. Read the label on the bottle to figure out exactly how often it is suggested to reapply for each brand of sunscreen or moisturizer. Don’t forget to throw a bottle of sunscreen, or a setting spray with SPF, in your bag before you leave the house to ensure your skin will be protected all day long!

Don’t Forget your Eyes!
Even if you use a moisturizer with SPF religiously, you may be neglecting some of your most sensitive skin- the areas around your eyes. Some kinds of sunscreen can sting your eyes, so try to find an eye cream or concealer formulated with SPF to protect those peepers!

Woman wearing sunglasses

Accessorize
Always getting those painful sunburns where your hair is parted? Try throwing on a cute, wide brim hat next time you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time. Oversized sunglasses are also a trendy way to protect your eyes from sun damage. Mix up your looks this summer with cool accessories, and protect your skin at the same time!

Don’t Stop at Your Face
While wearing sunscreen on your face every day is important, we tend to spend more time outside during the warmer months, so extending our sunscreen coverage is essential. Applying sunscreen to your ears, neck, chest, shoulders, and hands can do a lot to help protect your skin from sun damage. It doesn’t take long for the stronger summer sun to harm your skin, so adding these extra steps to your morning routine will help you remember to do this every day!

Limit Sun Exposure
We’ve all heard this tip, and no one likes to follow it, but whenever possible, it is best to limit your sun exposure during peak hours. Taking a lunch break inside while the sun is highest in the sky (and using this time to reapply your sunscreen) can help decrease your chances of getting burnt. We hate to say it, but less sun is always better for your skin’s health.
No need to skip out on all of the fun outdoor activities that summer brings, but don’t forget to protect your skin first!