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When it comes to spending your day outdoors this summer, nothing beats the feeling of grabbing a big floppy hat, a cold drink and enjoying all that the season has to offer.
But whether it’s the peak of summer or the middle of winter, sun protection is an important step in your everyday routine that shouldn't be overlooked.
Since there's so much more to sun safety than just sunscreen, keep reading for the best ways to protect you and your family from the sun this summer.
Put your clothing to work, too
When it comes to protecting your skin from the sun's harsh rays, our first thought is often to slather on the sunscreen without giving our clothing a second thought. However, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the clothes we wear can trap and absorb UV rays and cause sun damage.
Your clothing can offer some protection, but it varies spending on the fabric and the colour. For instance, darker and brighter colours offer a bit more protection than light colours do.
Protection is measured in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which indicates how much UV blocking you are getting. While the average cotton T-shirt only has a UPF of about 5-8, most UPF-specific clothing has a rating of 50+, meaning that it blocks out 98 per cent of the sun’s rays.
If you have kids, opting for a rash guard or long-sleeve bathing suit is a great option, so you spend less time trying to slather every part of their squirming bodies with sunscreen.
Stay safe on the road
Another often overlooked area of our lives that could stand to improve when it comes to sun protection is your time in the car. While typically the front windows have some tint and protection, you don’t want to forget about the side windows that allow for the sun's rays to come into contact with your skin.
Using a car shade can help bring some added sun protection to your car without breaking the bank. The removable and adhesive panels are a fraction of the cost of paying for tinted windows, and often come in convenient multipacks to add to all four car doors.
Sun safe from head to toe
Although our faces may get the most attention when it comes to sun protection, you don't want to neglect the other parts of your body, including areas like your scalp and eyes.
Wearing a hat is essential to protect your scalp, especially if you style your hair with a part. You can look for a hat with built-in UPF protection, but if a hat isn't an option, you can even go ahead and apply sunscreen directly onto your scalp.
Our eyes also deserve the same care and attention — and it’s all about the label. You want to make sure that you buy 100 per cent UV blocking glasses, which can sometimes be listed as UV400.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, you want to block out 75-90 per cent of visible light — so if you can see your eyes pretty clearly through the glasses, it might be worth opting for a darker pair.
Mineral vs. chemical sunscreen
There's no doubt that if you're looking to stay safe in the sun, sunscreen is one of the easiest ways to protect our skin. In fact, an Australian study found that there was a 40 per cent decrease in skin cancer with participants who wore sunscreen compared to those that did not.
However, not all sunscreen is created equal. Mineral sunscreens work as a physical barrier that blocks out UVA and UVB rays, whereas chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's rays on the surface of our skin, which prevents them from penetrating into the deeper layers and causing sun damage.
In recent years chemical sunscreens have gotten a bit of flack for their sometimes questionable ingredients. While there is a lot more research that needs to be done, mineral sunscreens generally are thought of as the safer option.
Whichever type you choose, you want to make sure to look for a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection — meaning it protects from both UVA and UVB rays.