Sun and Skin Care
As a solar company, we have an obvious love for the sun and we are delighted to share our passion about it with everyone we meet. This is the best time of year to enjoy it to the fullest, with summer vacations on the way, festivals and fireworks soon to follow. While we hope that you enjoy every single moment of yet another gorgeous New England summer, we are reminded that our sun’s rays are fantastic for powering homes and businesses, but downright harmful for our exposed skin. We care are about you and your family, so please keep these summer skincare tips in mind as we all head out for a summer’s worth of fun.
A Quick Science Refresher
It has probably been a while since you sat in a Matter & Energy class, so let’s take a moment to remember some basics about sunlight. The visible light that comes from the sun (ROY G. BIV, as you may recall) is an electromagnetic wave that travels from the sun, through space and then through our atmosphere to reach us. While the atmosphere helps block a lot of the harmful portions of the light spectrum before it reaches the ground, we enjoy the benefits of visible light in a variety of ways, including harnessing it for our energy needs. However, the invisible part of the light spectrum, the ultraviolet light, still reaches us. Ultraviolet light splits into multiple wavelengths, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll keep it simple: Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) are harmful radiation that damage our skin. Protecting yourself from these two types of solar radiation can prevent premature aging, damage, and potential cancer.
You’re probably reading this everywhere and we know we’re belaboring the point, but it is so important that it’s worth repeating: apply sunscreen before going outside and make sure to reapply every two hours while you are out. Purchasing and applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or above will protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Curious about that SPF number and what it really means? SPF 30 sunscreens filter out 97% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Going higher than SPF 30 provides additional protection, but it starts to make only marginal difference: SPF 50 blocks 98% of ultraviolet rays and SPF 100 blocks 99%. Always remember that no sunscreen will protect you completely and proper habits matter.
What makes a sunscreen a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen? A sunscreen can only be considered “broad spectrum” if it protects your skin from both UVA and UVB ultraviolet light. It’s important that you shield your skin from both types of ultraviolet light, as they both damage the actual DNA of your skin cells, causing them to mutate, which can potentially lead to skin cancer. UVA, which most people are familiar with, penetrates the skin deeper than UVB, but UVB causes skin reddening and tanning.
Articles like this one pop up right at the beginning of summer time, mostly because the days are longer and we have a lot more exposed skin during the summer days than any other time of the year. However, the sun sends ultraviolet rays to the earth’s surface every single day of the year. If you haven’t committed to making a broad-spectrum sunscreen a part of your daily skincare regimen, make this year your year. Get into the habit now and let it continue through the autumn and the winter.
Shield and Avoid
We know that it’s going to get hot, so this isn’t always easy to follow, but clothing helps block the sun’s rays and so consider covering up when outside during the peak of day. Seek out clothing that provides UV protection and don’t forget to protect your eyes with sunglasses that do the same. Wide-brimmed hats are also helpful for shielding you from the sun. For the little ones in your life, swimwear is available with SPF protection and so are some outdoor clothing lines.
And never underestimate the power of a shady tree, a covered porch, an awning, umbrella or any other physical shield between you and the sun. UV rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm, so all-out avoidance or at least prudence during these hours will protect your skin.
Consistent Application is Key
The daily practice of using sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin from damage. Don’t forget that how you apply your sunscreen matters. Do your homework to find the best brand for you and your family, then be sure to remember to apply that sunscreen generously at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors. Your skin needs time to absorb the sunscreen. Make sure that you use a generous amount during each application. On average, Adults need at 1 ounce of sunscreen per application. Take your sunscreen with you, as you need to reapply every 2 hours for it to remain effective. Remember that water resistant is not water proof, so reapply it after you swim or sweat significantly.
And don’t forget some of the neglected spots: your ears, your neck, the tops of your feet, even your lips (use a lip balm with SPF). All of your exposed skin needs to be protected.
Can a solar company care about the sun and its community?
Absolutely! Want to know more about how we take care of our friends and neighbors here in New England? Read more about our new High Five program and how it is benefitting local nonprofits, and our new partnership with Vets and Veggies in Athol, Massachusetts.
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