Sunlight has been clinically tested to improve moods and increase your body’s vitamin D production and endorphin release. But while everyone wants a glowing tan, the sun can also seriously damage your skin if you don’t take precautions. Here’s some simple guidelines for capturing that perfect tan and not frying your skin:
• The most important factor when picking a sunscreen is to get one that has an SPF of 15 or higher and broad-spectrum protection. This means your skin will be protected from both UVA and UVB rays.
• Chemical-free physical sunblocks that contain ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (like MenScience’s TiO2 Sunblock SPF 30) reflect harmful rays without reacting with the skin. This means they don’t cause allergic reactions and don’t sting the eyes if they run due to swimming or sweating.
• Regularly exfoliating your skin removes the outer layer of dead cells and allows you to achieve a more even tan. However, this also causes your skin to burn more easily, so don’t scrub yourself right before tanning.
• Lips can chap as easily from sunburn as from exposure to cold and dry air, so make sure to use a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher.
• Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before you go out into the sun to allow the skin time to absorb it. After a half an hour outside, it should be applied again for maximum protection. Most sunscreens only last about two hours, so make sure to apply it regularly, especially if swimming or sweating heavily. Even “waterproof” brands lose their potency after an hour in the water.
• Sand and water can reflect up to 90 percent of the sun’s rays, so give your skin extra protection when at the beach. A stronger SPF is also recommended for higher altitudes, since the air is thinner and sun exposure more intense.
• Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to sensitive areas like the tops of your feet, backs of your ears and neck, and areas of the scalp and hairline if your hair is thin or thinning.