While small amounts of sun exposure can help to boost Vitamin D levels, the reality is that the sun damages skin. This damage can present itself immediately as a sunburn or later as hyperpigmentation, wrinkles or skin cancer.
Choosing a healthy sunscreen and taking steps to minimize your sun exposure can help keep your skin happy, while still being able to enjoy time outdoors.
1. Choose a clean sunscreen
Avoid chemical sunscreens, such as oxybenzone (a known endocrine disruptor) and octinoxate (octylmethoxycinnamate). These are toxins that can linger in the body long after you have used them on your skin.
Instead, opt for physical mineral-only sunblocks containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide with at least an SPF 30. These act as a physical shield against the sun by deflecting the sun's rays away from the skin, without the irritation and general creepiness that chemical sunscreens can bring. Zinc oxide is actually quite soothing and protective for skin.
And, Great Merlin's Beard, don't forget your lips! Lips should also be protected with a physical sunscreen lip product.
Not sure which products to use? Check out the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Sunscreen for recommendations and reviews of the best and most effective products.
2. Apply properly
Using a physical sunscreen means that you have to have skin adequately covered in order for it to work. Take care to apply the product evenly and carefully. Mineral sunscreens can be thicker and a bit more difficult to apply, but this is by design. This allows them to stay on the skin and provide enough of a barrier of protection.
Some mineral sunscreen formulas can leave a white cast on the skin, especially if they are designed to be worn while swimming, although many formulas entering the market minimize this effect.
3. Remember to Reapply
When using a physical sunscreen, you must reapply it every 90-120 minutes and/or when you have been swimming or sweating a lot for them to work effectively.
4. Watch the Time
Enjoy time in the sun earlier in the day or in the afternoon, avoiding the peak UV ray times of about 10am to 3pm. This decreased intensity can also decrease your risk of sunburn and sun damage.
5. Cover Up
Although being in the shade does not completely protect you from the sun's rays, finding a shady spot can offer some protection. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and a beach wrap can also provide some extra protection for the face and body, while keeping you super-fancy and stylish to boot.