School and workday sun protection is just as important as weekend/beach/ vacation sun care. Most of us are aware that we should cover up and put on sunscreen when we head out for some weekend and summer fun. But, the danger from UV rays doesn’t take a break when you return to school and work. In fact, many people are exposed to significant UV rays throughout the day that they are not even aware of. Since cumulative sun exposure leads to increased risk for skin cancer, it is important to identify ways to reduce sun exposure for everyone in the family. Here are common exposures that most folks don’t consider:
Commuting/Driving/Traveling: UV rays can penetrate car, train and airplane windows
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UV rays (some UVB and about 50% of UVA rays) penetrate windows. While the front window in cars are made to block UV rays, the side and rear windows are not. If you fly for work, know that UV rays coming through airplane windows are even stronger than those on the ground.
Sitting near a window at school, the office or at home
Whether your classroom, workplace, home office or favorite reading spot is near a window, you will be exposed as easily as you are in a car. Given that school days and work days are long, this could mean hours of UV exposure to unprotected skin.
UV and LED lamps emit UV (UVA) radiation. It’s not a large amount, but best to avoid.
It may be tempting to forgo sunscreen when the sun is not burning bright. However, according to Medical News Today, over 90% of UV rays can pass through a light cloud cover and cause sunburn. And, penetrating UV rays can refract at odd angles, sometimes causing more exposure than you would think. On rainy days, breaks in passing showers may occur during the day to allow UV rays to do their damage. So, making sun protection part of your every day routine is safest.
Most of us stock up on sunscreen for summer vacation, but winter UV exposure can be just as dangerous. The UV rays coming from the sun can reflect off of snow and ice to cause increased exposure. And, if you are in the mountains hiking, skiing or snowboarding, know that UV rays are stronger at higher elevations. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, UV radiation is 4-5% stronger every 1,000 ft above sea level.
As we can see, sun protection needs to be a daily consideration. While it is not easy to practice perfect sun protection practices every day, there are strategies that can be taken to combat daily UV Exposure.
Sun Protection Strategies:
Apply SPF 30+sunscreen daily as part of your morning routine
Choose an SPF 30+ tinted sunscreen that can be used in place of other makeup foundations
If it’s hard to re-apply sunscreen throughout the day because you are wearing makeup, consider purchasing a powdered sunscreen that can be applied over makeup.
Use an antioxidant (i.e Vitamin C serum) under your sunscreen to enhance your sunscreen’s effectiveness. According to Arizona Dermatology, the natural anti-inflammatory effects of antioxidants dampen your skin’s response to the sun, adding a layer of sunburn protection.
Check the UV index in your location each day to know your exposure risks. 0-2 may be safe while 9-11 means you can burn in about 15 minutes.
Talk to your children about making sun protection a part of their daily routines. Apply sunscreen before school. Pack sunscreen in their backpacks, if allowed, so that they can reapply sunscreen before after-school sports/activities.
At nail salons, air dry your nails, if possible. If getting a gel manicure that requires use of LED and UV lights, apply SPF 30+ sunscreen to hands 15-20 minutes prior.
Choose products, UPF clothing, sunglasses and hats that you will wear! It’s no good buying “ideal” sun protective products that sit in your cabinets and closets. If you know you won’t wear long sleeve UPF Ts to the beach, buy short sleeved Ts and apply sunscreen to exposed areas. Got your favorite hat? Insert a Sundercover® UPF 50+ hat liner and apply sunscreen on your ears and neck.
While it is ideal to try for best sun protective practices (Avoid peak sun hours between 10 and 2. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas and reapply every 2 hours. Wear sunglasses, UPF clothing and a hat), do not let perfection get in the way of good efforts. Find strategies that work for you and your family to stay sun safe. Bottom line is that just like brushing your teeth, thinking about sun protection should be part of your everyday routine.