How to Protect Yourself From the Sun
Protect your skin from the sun with help from these eight life enhancers.
For anyone who thinks there's nothing new under the sun (or that an age-proof summer means no more outdoor fun), here are great ways to prove yourself wrong—and add a bunch of brand-new anti-aging options to the months ahead.
Make a Vitamin D Cocktail
By now, it's clear that it's smart to protect skin from the wrinkling and aging effects of the sun. But according to some researchers, all our careful sunscreen use also may be blocking the bone-protecting vitamin D that we get with the help of sunshine. Studies of regular sunscreen use, like one recently conducted at the National Institutes of Health, indicate that it may lower levels of vitamin D by as much as half. One solution is highly controversial. A team of researchers at the University of California believes in getting 5 to 20 minutes of midday sun each day, depending on your skin type.
But if you want to add vitamin D without leaving the shade, try drinking more vitamin D-fortified milk. And if taking it straight doesn't appeal, you can mix it With Vitamin- and mineral-rich berries and bananas in a cool "cocktail"—and boost your immune system along with your bones.
1 large banana, peeled and quartered
1/2 c. lowfat milk
1/2 c. berries or peaches
1 c. crushed ice
Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Makes two 110-calorie servings; 50 IU Vitamin D.
Buy Polarized Sunglasses
If you're thinking about springing for a pair of pricey shades, make sure they are polarized. Most sunglass brands offer polarized lenses, including popular designers like Ray-Ban and Oakley. Polarized lenses better for your eyes than regular lenses because of the chemical film that they are coated with. This film helps to reduce glare and improve clarity, putting less stress on the eyes and the muscles around the eyes. The chemical film of polarized lenses also help reduce the harmful effects of UV light, including cataracts and other age-related vision problems. You'll find these polarized sunglasses in any department store or online ranging anywhere from $80.00 to $250.00, depending on the designer.
Wear a Hat
Besides capping a sense of personal style, hats with brims have important benefits for the long life of your eyes and skin. Simply wearing a cap with a bill cuts eye exposure to UVB rays in half. Considering that UVBS have been linked with Cataract formation, that's a significant plus. Not to mention that a brim also helps protect the face from both UVA —a culprit in skin sag, as it damages supportive elastin and collagen— and UVB —behind most burning. No wonder the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends wearing hats.
A rule of thumb: The bigger the brim, the better the protection. So think of what an oversized, Kentucky derby style hat could do. It shields ears, sides of the face, back of the neck, even some of the shoulders. Equally important for banning “bad” rays is the material. That means thumbs up to hard plastic, tight straw, and woven cotton.
With the harsh summer sun comes high temperatures, so staying hydrated is crucial in protecting yourself from the sun. Dehydration can cause you to become tired and lethargic, and often results in headaches, as well as dry mouth and dry skin. Invest in a temperature control reusable water bottle to ensure that you have cool water on you at all times. Bonus, you're helping the environment by getting rid of those plastic bottles.
Try a Sun Protection Pill
As our understanding about the sun's aging effects increases, so does thinking about the different routes protection can take. One of the latest skin-saving approaches to this problem comes from an entirely new direction—from the inside out. One day we all may be popping daily “sunscreen” tablets the way we do vitamin pills.
Unlike topical screens that block harmful rays, the oral "sunscreen" lets rays penetrate, but heads off some potential damage by working within cells. The new technology would be useful against hard-to-block UVA damage. UVA rays produce reactive oxygen and free radicals in the skin, which damage cell membranes, enzymes and DNA in ways that can result in skin cancer. They also contribute heavily to wrinkling.
Preliminary tests show that the pill captures the free radicals that may cause skin damage. And daily intake means the pill remains in your system for constant protection.
In the early morning and evening, as well as in winter months, when UVB rays are at a minimum, the oral sun protection pills will be nice insurance for those who don't like or occasionally forget to coat themselves with regular sunscreen. But because an oral screen won't keep light from penetrating the skin, you can still burn and build up UVB damage.
Invest is a Swim Shirt
Nothing takes the pleasure out of summer more (and few things are more skin aging) than a bad sunburn. Likewise, nothing takes the protection out of most sunscreens like swimming. Swim shirts or rash guards offer an amphibious sunscreen solution—for children as well as adults. Designed to be worn in and out of the water, skin shirts are fast-drying and made of tightly woven nylon. While the Skin Cancer Foundation says that tighter weaves up sun protection, are swim shirts that much better at battling sunburn than your favorite faded T-shirts? Well the answer is yes. And you can swim in them, ultimately decreasing your chance of getting sun burn.
Wear Sunscreen, Everyday
Ah, last but not least. The most tried and true way to protect yourself from the sun is to wear sunscreen. No matter what. Every day, any time of day, you have to wear sunscreen. Unfortunately there are no substitutes for the real thing, other than of course staying out of the sun all together. But we all need to get outside some time, so when you do, make sure you lather yourself up in sunscreen. Wear it underneath your normal make up or lotion daily for the best results. Companies make more skin friendly recipes now with less smell, and less shine, so no excuses. Wear it!