Make This The Year Of UV Protection

 In the dead of winter, you might find yourself pining for sunny days. But while you may want to soak in the sun, too much of it can be severely damaging, leading to skin and eye damage and even cancer. UV rays can be immensely dangerous. Even sunburns, which most people view as an inevitability, can ultimately lead to irreversible damage.

 So, rather than wishing for the sun to return, spend this season getting ready for long sunny days with a few minor lifestyle changes. You’ll be sure to thank us when you spend the whole summer without a single sunburn!

Why You Should Avoid UV

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a type of radiation. It naturally comes from the sun, but it can also be found in tanning beds and certain kinds of lights. While UV rays are essential in creating vitamin D, they can also contribute to many harmful effects, including:

  • Premature aging of the skin

  • Severe eye damage, including blindness

  • Severe skin damage, including melanoma (an aggressive skin cancer)

Those particularly at risk are people with light-colored hair and eyes and those with a family history of skin cancer. 

While vitamin D is an essential vitamin, you don’t need to sit out in the sun for hours to reap its benefits. According to the CDC, you just need 5-15 minutes of sun exposure 2 or 3 days a week to reap its benefits without the risk of skin or eye damage.

What You Can Do To Minimize The Risk Of UV Damage

There are many precautions you can take to ensure that you limit the amount of UV rays you’re exposed to. Here are a few you can start implementing through the winter to ensure you’re safe and secure from UV rays come summertime.

Add More Shade To Your Property

You can still enjoy the outdoors with the proper protection, and one way to achieve that is to create a more shady property. Work with a landscaper to add structures like gazebos, porch overhangs, and other options to create shady areas in your yard. Alternately, adding a few trees around your property is a great way to add some extra shade as well as some lovely greenery to a garden.

Shade protects from UV rays, so you can still enjoy your yard and the warmth of the day without the risk of skin cancer.

Tint Your Windows

Did you know that certain UV rays can travel through glass? While you may not get a sunburn by sitting next to a sunny window, it can still permeate through to cause irritation and increased pigmentation. 

The best way to protect against UV exposure through windows is by getting your windows tinted. Much like with sunglasses, tinted windows greatly reduce the amount of UV rays that come through the glass, keeping your skin safe in addition to reducing glare and cooling down houses and cars.

Always Wear Sunscreen And Other Sun Protection

You should always be wearing at least an SPF15 sunscreen when you go outdoors, and you should take care to reapply every 2 hours to ensure the maximum amount of sun protection you can. Taking this precaution can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer.

These days, you don’t have to slather on oily, heavy sunscreen. You can find a good quality sunscreen in many places online, and often these sunscreens feel like nothing more than moisturizer. This makes them easy to incorporate in your daily routine and leaves your skin feeling fresh and renewed as well as protected.

Sunglasses are another important piece of sun protection. Leaving your eyes unprotected in sunlight can cause eye strain, cataracts, and even blindness over time. Plus, eyes can get sunburned, especially if you have blue eyes. Keep your eyes safe (and your face free from crow’s feet) by wearing sunglasses whenever you’re out in the daytime.

You can also double up your protection with hats, rashguards, light wraps, and other pieces of clothing that shield you from the sun without sacrificing your comfort.

Don’t Assume That Winter Is Safe

While these tips are obviously a great thing to consider for summer, you should be using them year round. Even in the cold, UV rays are still present in the daytime, and you should take care to take to protect your skin and eyes even on cold, cloudy days.

This is especially true if you do winter sports like snowboarding or skiing. Snow can actually reflect UV light more intensely than water, and higher altitudes mean thinner atmosphere–that makes the UV rays in the mountains much more intense than at sea level. Investing in sports sunglasses is a great idea, as is limiting your time outdoors in the snow.

Avoid Tanning Practices

Tanning beds are literally machines built to pump out UV rays to damage your skin. That’s the truth. But while tanning beds have mostly fallen out of style, there are still a lot of people who love to lay out in the sun to work on their tan. Tanning is a sign that your skin has been damaged, and using tanning oils to help with the process is just amplifying the damage done. 

If you must tan, invest in bronzer or a good quality tanning lotion (or a “fake tan”) that you can use cosmetically without having to sit out in the sun. It’s a much safer option, and you don’t have to worry about tan lines.

We all love a nice day in the sun, and getting vitamin D is essential for physical and mental health. But the risk of damage and illness that can arise from UV rays means that you must be careful when you enjoy a day of basking in the sunlight. 

By taking care of your skin by creating a safe environment at your home and layering up on protection when you’re out and about, you’ll likely be able to avoid eye damage and skin cancer, especially melanoma, and enjoy more youthful looking skin. It’s a win-win!

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