Protect Your Skin In the San Diego Sun

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With summer just begun, hoards of bikini-clad bodies are flocking to the beaches. The weather is heating up, and while tan may look healthy, unless it was acquired by a tanning lotion or spray-on, it’s likely to lead to health risks. There are some new (and some old) rules to remember about skin protection against the sun.

Sun exposure has been found to provide many health benefits, such as increasing production of vitamin D, an essential nutrient the body can also get from consumption of fatty fish and fortified milk. Unfortunately, many people suffer from low levels of vitamin D, and studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to an increased risk of heart disease, to which experts advise a little unprotected sun exposure. Amidst the many campaigns urging individuals to take cover from the sun, experts recommend a few minutes of unprotected sun exposure on the legs for fair-skinned individuals, 15-20 minutes for tan or olive-skinned individuals and 40-60 minutes for dark-skinned individuals.

Despite this new rule of skin protection, the prevailing advice from dermatologists worldwide is still to take the necessary precautions to limit sun exposure and therefore, reduce the risk of skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “a person’s risk for melanoma–the most serious form of skin cancer–doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns” during his or her lifetime. There are a few simple steps to lower your risk.

1. Apply sunscreen: The oldest news may be that proper skin protection includes applying a generous amount of sunscreen with at least SPF 30, but this rule has a new spin. While most sunscreens guard against dangerous UVB rays that cause sunburns, many do not guard against deep-penetrating UVA rays that cause skin aging, inviting wrinkles, liver spots, and skin discoloration. Look for sunscreens that advertise UVA/UVB protection and check that the ingredients include avobenzone, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

Don’t forget: Besides causing an unattractive sandal tan, forgetting to apply sunscreen to your feet can be dangerous and painful. Likewise, the lips are one of the most sensitive places on the body and deserve plenty of SPF protection as often as possible. ChapStick, Blistex and likely your favorite brand offers a lip balm with SPF 30.

2. Reapply that sunscreen: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, experts assert that not only does sunscreen need 20-30 minutes after initial application to set, but it also rubs off due to sweating and water-exposure. Try using a moisturizer with SPF before you leave the house and then apply your sunscreen before setting up your beach umbrella. Make a habit of reapplying sunscreen after you towel off and again every few hours.

3. Limit your time in the sun: The newest rule may be this one. From 10:00am- 4:00pm, when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, spend some time (depending on your skin color) soaking up some sun and producing vitamin D. Outside those 10-20 minutes, hang out indoors, in the shade or underneath a trendy beach umbrella.

4. Limit skin exposure in the sun: Though the San Diego heat may prompt you to strip down to your bare minimums, covering up as much as possible blocks the sun’s dangerous rays. Wear a floppy hat, a cute shrug or a light linen button-down to stay cool and prevent sunburn. While wearing white is trendy in the summertime, it offers close to no sun protection. Experts advise preferring darker t-shirts to pale ones. If you must, wash those whites in a product like Sunguard. Products like this one boast defense against 96% of harmful sun rays by infusing your clothes with UPF 30 sun protection. Wearing UVA/UVB safe sunglasses can reduce the UV rays penetrating the eyes, which are the leading contributor to cataract.

5. Don’t spill that drink: Summer drinks containing citrus juices can heighten the skins sensitivity to the sun and the risk for sunburn. Due to its bleaching properties, skin contact with lemons while outside can also cause unattractive skin blotches. Enjoy that lemonade or mojito responsibly and wash off any from your skin.

Following these few easy rules can help reduce your risk of skin cancer, cataract and heart disease, while increasing your skin’s vitality. With so many events and attractions outside, there’s no reason not to enjoy the San Diego summer.

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