Protect Yourself from Sun Damage

This time of year, life on the Cape is really all about enjoying the outdoors and soaking up the abundant sunshine. Whether your boating, biking or beaching it’s no secret that the sun’s rays boost both Vitamin D and serotonin levels. That’s why it feel awesome to be outside! But too much sun can be a bad thing. In attempts to avoid looking like the boiled lobster from last night’s clambake, we have to protect ourselves from overexposure, burns, and the harmful chemicals found in certain sun protection products. Let’s explore some safe options that will leave you feeling and looking great after your day outside.

To avoid the burns the best way, and I mean best, is to cover up with some sort of sun protective clothing, something that has a UPF rating (Ultraviolet Protective Factor) or UV blocking capabilities. When a clothing label says “UPF 50” that means that only 1/50th of the suns UV rays will pass through to your skin. These never wear out or wash off like sunscreens or sunblock. They are quick to put on and surprisingly cool and comfortable. The outdoor clothing company Columbia, for example, has developed a fabric this year called Omni-Shade that uses tiny sun-deflecting dots to deflect harmful UV rays and keep you cool. That’s pretty amazing! If you want solid protection from the sun, UPF clothing should absolutely be part of your summer wardrobe.

The alternative to covering your skin up is to bare it all which means sunscreen or block is your friend. Here’s the quickest rundown I can give: There are two different types of UV (ultraviolet) rays, UVA and UVB, and you need to protect against both. Sunblock is formulated to protect against UVB; sunscreens are created to protect against UVA rays. When you are looking at an SPF rating (Sun Protection Factor), anything higher than 50 is pretty much a marketing gimmick. Number one dermatologist approved…also a marketing gimmick. Chemical sunscreens containing ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone and homosalate work by absorbing and transforming the suns UVA and UVB rays. It has been found that sunscreens that contain these can often be irritating and harmful to your skin. Yuk! This is where mineral-based sunscreens or blocks come into play. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are minerals (yes, products of nature) that act as physical blockers to UV rays (zinc oxide works better against both UVA and UVB).

My favorite skin care company, Kiehl’s has a whole product page dedicated to mineral-based sunscreens that actually work amazing and leave your skin feeling even better! My daily go-to product is their Activated Sun Protector which protects against UVA and UVB rays and is water resistant for 80 minutes. The best part about this patented Sun-Filter Technology is that it doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy and the water-like texture makes application effortless.

Get outside! Enjoy the Cape! Don’t get burned!