Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Are You Ready For Summer?

Summer is around the corner! Many of us cannot wait to enjoy the sunshine. But before we can head for the great outdoors, protecting our skin from sun damage should be a constant consideration. Actually, sun safety is extremely important to keep in mind no matter what season it is!
The sun has harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can damage the skin in as little as 15 minutes. UVA rays are present throughout the day and UVB rays are most intense from 10 am to 4 pm. UVA rays can cause premature aging and UVB rays can cause sunburns. Even when you can’t see the sun on a gloomy day, UV rays are still present! Over time, too much exposure to UV rays can lead to wrinkles and age spots, as well as increased risk for skin cancer and impaired eyesight (cataracts). There are 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer every year. Overexposure to the UV is a risk factor for skin cancer, but good news is it is the most preventable one.

 Tips for mindful sun safety:
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside, even when it is not sunny, and reapply every couple of hours.
  • Avoid being in direct sunlight for too long, especially between 10 am and 4 pm, when UV rays are the strongest.
  • Wear a hat to protect areas that are often overexposed to intense sunlight, such as ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp. For inexpensive additional protection, wear a large handkerchief or bandana under a baseball cap.
  • Wear sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB Rays. Look for labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements.” Fashion sunglasses only block about 70% of UV rays and those without a label probably do not provide any UV protection.



 Choosing the right sunscreen is a daunting task. There are so many options that it can be overwhelming, but be sure to read the labels. Sun protection factor (SPF) is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. However, high SPF numbers do not necessarily mean more protection. For example, SPF of 30 does not mean it protects you twice as much as SPF 15. SPF 50 and SPF 100+ are available but do not add significantly more benefit. Also, remember, SPF mainly refers to UVB. Look for sunscreen with “broad-spectrum” labels for protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 to SPF 30 is highly recommended.

 Always protect yourself from harmful UV rays!

Wait, you might be asking, do tanning beds and sun lamps have UV rays? Yes, tanning lamps and sun lamps release both UVA and UVB rays. There is no such thing as a safe tan. Remember, a tan changes the color of your skin and is a sign of skin damage. As a result, tanning increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

 Go enjoy your favorite summer activities, but remember to protect your skin with these sun safety tips!  

 Test your knowledge with this sun safety quiz from the American Cancer Society:


 American Cancer Society. (2015, March 20). Skin Cancer Prevention and Early Detection. Retrieved from

 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2006). The Burning Facts. Retrieved from

 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2015, October 26). Action Steps for Sun Safety. Retrieved from

 Written by: Angela Do
Philadelphia Ujima Graduate Student Intern
(Arcadia University)