Column: Playing it Safe in the Sun

Skincare Column
Playing it Safe in the Sun

Tans look great, but looks can be deceiving. That beautiful golden brown really means you’ve burned your skin. Keep that up repeatedly and you wind up with wrinkled, spotted, leathery skin or worse – skin cancer. Here’s how to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.

  • Limit your time in the sun. Avoid the sun when it’s at its strongest, between mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Be aware that ultraviolet (UV) sunlight reflected from water, sand,snow, and cement can be as intense as direct sunlight. Clouds can block brightness, butmay allow up to 80 percent of UV light to reach your skin.

  • Wear protective clothing and sunglasses. Wear long-sleeved cotton shirts and hats with at least a four inch brim, which offer good protection against the sun. Choose sunglasses that have at least 99 percent protection against UVA and UVB light.

  • Use sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or higher, and use it even on cloudy days. Look for moisturizers and makeup products that contain non-greasy sunscreens so that you can be protected every day, even workdays. When applying sunscreen, don’t forget the lips. Wait 15 minutes before you go in the sun. Be generous. You need to use about one ounce (about two tablespoons) to adequately cover your body. Most people only use a quarter of that, leaving themselves open for sun damage. You also need to reapply sunscreen every two to three hours and even more often ifyou’re swimming or sweating, whether the product is labeled waterproof or not.

  • Ask your doctor about medications you take. Many drugs can increase your sensitivity to sunlight and your risk of getting a sunburn. Some common ones include thiazide and other diuretics; tetracycline and sulfa antibiotics; and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, in dosages used to treat arthritis.

 June English is a licensed esthetician and has a skin care business in Los Alamos at 127 East Gate Dr. For more information, visit

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