Did you know that 90 percent of skin aging is caused not by trips to the beach but by everyday sun exposure that occurs throughout the year? This means that even though the summer is behind us, you still need to think about sun protection, as you should virtually every time you walk out your door.
Despite the fact that you can be over-exposed to the sun even in the fall and winter months, a Harris Interactive survey found that 38 percent of Americans believe sunscreen is mainly for use on a sunny day. In reality, your skin can still be damaged by the sun even on cloudy days, when up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays still penetrate your skin. UV rays can also be reflected off of water, sand, snow and concrete, raising your risk of sun damage regardless of whether it’s cloudy or cold.
The survey revealed that many Americans incorrectly believe that skin aging is mostly related to genetics. Another 40 percent believe the main risk of sun exposure is sunburn. However, everyday sun exposure is linked to a number of risks, including:
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Sagging skin
- Dull, dehydrated skin
- Age spots
- Pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions
- Benign tumors
- Telangiectasias (the dilation of blood vessels under your skin)
While some experts advise putting on sunscreen every time you’re outdoors, others stress the importance of getting some sun exposure in order to produce healthful levels of vitamin D. Yet, most all agree on the following commonsense measures to protect your skin from excessive UV-related damage:
- Seek shade when appropriate
- Wear protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, pants, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat
- Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen (that protects against both UVA and UVB rays) when you’ll be in the sun for longer periods
- Be extra cautious about sun exposure near water, snow and sand, as they intensify and reflect UV rays
- Avoid tanning beds, which may contribute to cancer and wrinkling
If you want to learn more about sensible sun safety to protect your skin (and your overall health), read these eight top sun safety myths now.