Being Sun Smart

Protecting yourself from negative UV waves


With the summer in full swing, many of us are finding ourselves outside more and more often. And why not? The sun is shining, the pool or beach beckons, and being stuck inside on a gorgeous day seems like a waste.

Thing is, too much sun can be a bad thing. You need to make sure you both protect yourself when outside, while also making to sure to spend some time indoors to give yourself a break.

When outside

The big worry is ultraviolet radiation. Specifically, there is UVA, which makes up about 95% of all UV rays that reach the surface of the Earth, even in winter; and UVB, which is what gives you tans and sunburns. (There is actually a third, called UVC, but it never gets through the atmosphere.) Because of this, you really need a multi-spectrum sunscreen, and there a few rules to follow:

  • Use one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher
  • Put it on about 15 minutes before going outside so it is properly absorbed
  • Put on a new layer every two to three hours
  • When swimming, put on a new coat every 20 minutes, as no sunscreen is truly waterproof
  • When perspiring heavily, reapply every hour

When inside

Finding things to do indoors and out of the sun during the summer can be tricky, especially if you have kids. But with "Stay out of the Sun Day" July 3, now is a great time for a special "inside day"—and it's not like you don't have options:

  • There are plenty of projects you can do to help relieve the summer doldrums, from making tasty treats to games to art
  • Head to a local museum or art gallery, many of which have free or discounted admission for service members and their families
  • It's a great time to catch a movie, especially during summer blockbuster season; some chains, such as AMC, even offer military discounts
  • Take a staycation to an area attraction (and, as usual, always ask about that military discount!)

Basically, find ways this summer to give skin a break from the harmful effects of too much sun while also still having fun!


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