Natural Sun Protection 101

Staying Safe In The Sun

Natural sun protection from ultraviolet rays is important for young and old alike. It's also an absolute must for anyone who wants to limit his or her risk of developing skin cancer.

People are finally beginning to realize that although sunshine is a great mood enhancer, and important for Vitamin D absorbtion, excessive exposure can lead to sunburn and premature aging. Long term, excess exposure can damage the skin making it prone to wrinkling and possibly the development of skin cancer.

Sun Safety
Anti Aging tips for the healthiest skin -- protection from harmful UV rays is of the utmost importance!

bikini on tan woman  When do you need sun protection?

 In a nutshell, anytime you are outside. Realistically  however it's important anytime you'll be outdoors between  the hours of 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, when the sun is at its highest.

We often forget that we can still burn even though the sun isn't shining. Overcast days are some of the worst times for being in the sun unprotected. Because ultraviolet rays can reflect off certain surfaces, snow, in water, on the sand or even when on a cement or grass surface.

Sun Protection Factor

Natural sun protection products are available as creams, lotions, oils, tanners and bronzers. Take a look next time you're shopping and you'll find sun protection products that are waterproof and sweat proof. Some are designed especially for infants and others are specially-formulated for athletes. As we have stated before, look for natural sun protection products free of harmful chemicals.

So what's with those SPF numbers? The sun protection factor (SPF), ranges from a low of 2 to a high of 50 and sometimes higher. Most of us understand that the SPF has something to do with providing protection from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. Read on to help clarify....

What does SPF mean?

The SPF is a comparison of the time it takes before the skin will start to redden with and without sun protection. In addition, SPF pertains only to UVB rays, the ones that cause tanning but also sunburns.

For example, if it would take 20 minutes for your skin to burn without sun protection, then a SPF of 15 means that when applied, you can remain in the sun 15 times longer, or up to 5 hours, without worrying about burning. The greater the SPF, the longer the protection it offers, but only up to a certain point. SPFs greater than 15 offer only small increments of additional protection.

In reality though, sun protection (regardless of SPF) becomes less effective when it's not evenly applied, you go into the water or you sweat. Both water and sweat diminish the product's effectiveness that's why it's extremely important to reapply natural sun protection frequently.

Besides reapplying, for maximum effectiveness the first application should be heavy and happen approximately 20 minutes prior to going out into the sun. This allows sufficient time for the product to fully absorb into the skin. It also ensures that you'll be protected the moment you step outside. Don't skimp when it comes to using natural sun protection.

Which SPF is right for you?

For most people, natural sun protection with a sun protection factor of 15 provides adequate protection as long as it's frequently reapplied. However, those with more sensitive skin will benefit from a higher SPF. People who are fair-skinned, have light-colored or red hair or who are traveling to certain high altitude or tropical destinations will also benefit from a higher SPF. Those with darker skin generally don't burn as easily and need only a mild SPF. When choosing, remember that a higher SPF does not offer more protection - it offers longer protection.

woman with sunglasses looking at sun

Sun Protection - More Than Skin Deep

One thing you'll realize about most natural sun protection products is that they're not formulated for all body parts. They're great at protecting the skin, but what about the eyes, lips and hair? The sun can cause serious damage to the eyes and has been associated with the development of cataracts.

The lips too are extremely delicate and they'll easily burn if not protected from the sun. Lips that are dry and chapped neither look good nor feel good. Applying a product containing zinc offers maximum sun protection. Lip balms, conditioners and lipsticks that have a SPF of at least 15 are also good choices.

The sun can damage hair, too. We sometimes don't realize this because we don't 'feel' the effects. But we can see the effects. Dry, dull, frizzy hair doesn't only result from excess chemical processing. Sun damages hair and harsh pool chemicals and salt only worsen the problem.

For more on hair care, check out The Natural Hair Care page.

Other Types of Sun Protection

Sun protection doesn't always come in a bottle. Protective clothing, hats and sunglasses are all just as important in blocking the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. So is seeking shade whenever possible. Here's a rundown on other types of sun protection.

Some clothing manufacturers now produce a protective clothing line with a UPF or ultraviolet protection factor. Designed for those of you who spend a lot of time outdoors: golfers, construction workers, hikers, fishers, kayakers and others, these natural sun protection clothes are stylish and functional. You'll find protective clothing for all members of the family, including infants. Even if you can't find or afford clothing with UPF, tightly woven fabrics and dark colors are effective at blocking out the sun's rays. Dry clothing blocks out more UV rays than wet. Of course, long sleeves and pants offer maximum sun protection, but who wants to wear that much clothing when out in the sun?

Hats protect hair, eyes, face and the tips of ears and those with wide brims offer the most protection and will actually help cool you off. Sunglasses are an absolute must when outdoors. When selecting a pair, make sure the label specifically states that the lenses offer UV protection otherwise they'll be useless. As a general rule, the bigger the lens, the more sun protection. Trendy, wrap-around styles offer the most protection because they block sun that can hit the eyes from the sides.

If you're interested in making positive changes to live a healthier, more prosperous life - These tips and suggestions will be valuable to you and your family.

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