Taking Care of Yourself While You Play Outside This Summer

School’s out, sun’s up. Beach days are here!

Now is the time everyone’s flocking to the sandy shores, lounging by the pool, falling asleep on a deck chair with a good book, weeding the garden, and tailgating those summer concerts. These are the gloriously bright days you’ve been dreaming of all year long and you plan to spend as much time as you possibly can soaking it all in.

Benefits of Some Sun Exposure

Exposure to sunlight boosts your vitamin D levels.

There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of summer sun.

Exposure to sunlight is thought to trigger the brain’s release of serotonin, a hormone associated with boosting mood and helping you feel calm and focused. Without enough sun exposure, serotonin levels can dip, putting you at higher risk of major depression with seasonal pattern, (formerly known as SAD, seasonal affective disorder).

Exposure to sunlight boosts your vitamin D levels. The UVB radiation causes your skin to make vitamin D, which plays a huge role in bone health.

A moderate amount of sunlight can help to prevent some forms of cancers like colon, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

Sun exposure is also believed to help treat certain skin conditions. Doctors have recommended UV exposure to treat psoriasis, eczema, and acne. It’s best to speak with your dermatologist about whether this treatment is right for your condition.

Notice that it is “some” sun exposure. Not much time with UV rays is necessary to reap those benefits. Depending on factors such as where you live and your percentage of skin exposed, 10 minutes in the sun may give you about five times the recommended amount of vitamin D necessary. Not too bad!

Why Taking Care of Summer Skin Is Important

UV rays play the biggest contributing factor when it comes to signs of aging.

Contrary to popular belief, you are not Wonder Woman or Superman. Wouldn’t that be nice? While a little bit of exposure can be healthy, the fact remains: UV rays play the biggest contributing factor when it comes to signs of aging. Of course, let’s also not forget the dreaded skin cancers.

Regardless of who you sometimes think you are, you are not invincible, and your skin sins will catch up to you someday. (Did you hear your mother there?)

Pay attention to the following summer skin care tips for outdoor summer play.

How to Protect Your Skin This Summer

Avoid the sun.

*gasp*

Yes, you read it correctly.

The best way to take care of yourself is to avoid full sun exposure when the rays are at their peak: between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. That doesn’t mean you must avoid the family picnic and trip to the park. It just means you need to use a little common sense. Stay in the shade under a tree or umbrella during those times. Or use that time to go inside to clean your house or read a book. There’ll be plenty of sunlight remaining in the afternoon!

When you can’t avoid time in the direct sun, wear protective clothing to cover as much as you can. Many companies make clothing that is rated for protection from UV rays. Just how protective they are is dependant upon multiple factors such as the color, the weave, weight, etc. To make it easy on yourself, look for clothing with a UPF rating. It shows you just how much radiation will be getting through the weave. For instance, a shirt with a UPF of 50 allows just 1/50 of the sun’s UV radiation to reach your skin. That’s pretty good protection!

Don’t forget your sunglasses. The delicate skin around your eyes is especially susceptible to damage from the sun

Don’t forget your sunglasses. The delicate skin around your eyes is especially susceptible to damage from the sun, so hide it behind a big, sporty pair of shades. Just make sure that they have 100% UVA and UVB protection to provide a shield from all of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Not only should you be protecting your eyes themselves, but the delicate skin around the eyes, too. It’s especially prone to showing early signs of aging like crows feet, wrinkles, and sun spots. “Eyelid skin is the thinnest skin on our body and it’s more at risk for sunlight damage,” says Elliot Levine, M.D., and ophthalmologist at Piedmont Healthcare. That area is also especially prone to skin cancers. A good percentage of skin cancers are found here.

Apply your sunscreen. There are two times that you should be applying sunscreen: when you first wash and moisturize your face in the morning, and before you go outside. Your daily moisturizer should automatically contain an SPF. Much of your sun exposure doesn’t just come from lounging by the pool. You’re exposed to the sun on a regular basis as you sit beside your window or drive home from work. Incorporating a moisturizer with sunscreen into your skincare regimen will give you added protection throughout your day.

If you’re getting ready to play in the sun, apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside so that it has a chance to take effect. Look for a broad-spectrum (blocking both UVA and UVB) formulation with an SPF of at least 30. You should apply it every 2 hours while outside; more often if you’re swimming or sweating.

While you won’t be able to avoid chlorine altogether if you plan on doing any swimming this summer, you will want to watch just how much you’re exposed to. Chlorine strips the skin of the top protective layer; the layer that keeps your skin from drying out. That’s why your skin may feel tight or itchy after you’ve spent all day playing water polo. If you own your pool, you can opt for an all-natural disinfectant instead. If you’re visiting someone else’s, you probably don’t have much choice. In that case, protect yourself with a shielding lotion and jump in the shower as soon as you hop out of the pool.