How to be Sun Smart

If you’ve ever seen me, you know I’m one of the palest people you will meet. And I am totally fine with that. In fact, I actually try to keep it that way. Some of you may think, “You’re crazy, why?” While others may be like “right on sister!”.

First off, you have got to love yourself for every quirk, unique thing about yourself. Second of all I don’t want skin cancer, and third of all, I want to keep my skin looking young.

It took me about 22 years to get it right. I’ve had a handful of bad burns in my life and that is enough to keep me wanting to prevent them from happening again.

Initially, I didn’t even understand skin and its workings. For those of you who tan, that golden colour is your skin trying to protect itself from UV Ray damage. If you’re like me and freckle, watch out because it’s even worse since the freckles are ‘spotty’ tan trying to protect itself. Essentially the parts that stay white are getting mega damged.

So how does one protect fragile skin in the summer when you want to wear very little clothing and may even be sweating or swimming off sunscreen (I’m assuming, and hoping you wear it May – August. Better yet all year round)?

Mind peak sun times

10 a.m. and 2 p.m. standard time or 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daylight savings time are when the UV rays are at their strongest.  Even if its cloudy and doesn’t feel hot, those rays are still going to get to you (and burn you!). This is the key time to find some shade and follow the next tips below.

Stay covered up

You may think it sucks, but if you have lightweight natural fabrics you actually stay cool and reflect the light off your clothes with light/bright colors, instead of your skin feeling the heat.

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The beach was cool when the sun was behind clouds but this loose silk blouse was the perfect cover-up. I rolled up the sleeves and unbuttoned it when I started to get too warm.
 Wear a hat & Sunglasses

Your scalp can burn! And OUCH, does it ever hurt to brush it after it is. Plus it keeps sun of your neck, face and even chest and shoulders if its a big floppy one.  Sunglasses will protect your sensitive eyes and if that;s not enough, help prevent crow’s feet from squinting and sun damage breaking down skin elasticity.

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Scored this awesome monogrammed hat second-hand. I couldn’t say no!
Sunscreen / Sunblock Is your BFF

I used to be a believer in SPF 50, SPF 70 even since I wanted a higher number and less chance of burning. However when I spent a summer in Spain, I eventually ran out of high SPF sunscreen and was stuck at a roadblock. I could not find any sunscreen higher than SPF 30+. So that’s what I got. I think I became a bit more particular about re-applying but it worked! Note: The higher SPF the more chemicals or minerals are required. Also,  I have sensitive skin, I have since opted for an organic natural mineral sunblock for my face.

The trick is to listen to the instructions. Simple right? Apply sunscreen when you are in your house and getting ready (at least 20 minutes before sun exposure). I apply it with no clothes on instead of moisturizer (clothes aren’t 100% UV protected unless you buy it with a label that says it is) to make sure I am all covered. Let it soak in as you make food, get ready and get dressed. Make sure to reapply to exposed skin every 2 hours, or after swimming or lots of sweating.

What does SPF mean? The rating is a factor of time for sun protection. Simply put, minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum exposure time before you burn. For example, 10 minutes burn time regularly, with an SPF 30 = 300 minutes (aka 5 hours).

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**Caution, not all sunscreens are created equal. Some sunscreens can be strong with SPF AND with extremely harsh chemicals. Wondering which ones belong in the Hall of Shame? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide. They have some great ones to choose from and you can find then in Natural Food Stores and even in the Organics Sections of most nice grocery stores like Zehrs.

I hope that these tips help keep your skin from burning. I’d love to hear what you do to be sun smart.. write your comments below!

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