Summer is here and that means we are all outside enjoying those fun summer time activities like swimming, hiking, playing in the yard or at the beach. These activities are what summertime memories are made from but all have one thing in common: the sun! Coming from Arizona, applying sunscreen before we left the house was apart of daily life. Whether the temperatures were soaring into the 100’s or even in the 70’s, the sun there was HOT and my fair skinned kids would burn at the drop of a hat. Now that we have moved back to the east coast and the sun is less intense, we are outside even more! We love to be outside and if 15 summers in the desert taught me anything, it was the ritual of applying sunscreen FIRST every day, before we even leave the house.
Like I talked about in my 9 Healthy Family Summer Time Fun Activities, United HealthCare is challenging America to be the best YOU you can be with their monthly health dares. For July it’s all about learning how to be safe in the sun so you can protect your skin and your kid’s skin. Did you know even one sunburn ups your chances of getting skin cancer later in life? Scary huh? I know I made my fair share of sun mistakes when I was a teenager and I won’t let my kids do the same. In order to keep your family safe this summer, here are 5 simple steps to sun smartness so you can enjoy all the parts of summer!
1. What’s My Number?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. I personally like to use a little higher for my kids, but use this as a guide for myself.
2. Negative Sun Effects
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, being in the sun too much can cause sunburn, freckles, skin texture changes, rashes and dilated blood vessels. Exposure also increases the risk of skin cancer and is the cause of 90% of wrinkles. We already know all of this too be true and it’s not too late to make skin care a priority, we may not be able to undo that damage we did as a teenager laying in the sun by the pool, but we can certainly make sure not to ADD any new damage!
3. Frequency of Application
This one is SO important. Many people think that they can just apply in the morning and be good all day but this is definitely not the case, ESPECIALLY when we are in and out of water or sweating! Here’s how it works: If you are using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, and it usually takes you 15 minutes to get a sunburn, all you have to do is multiply the two numbers together to figure out about how long your sunscreen should last. In this case, it would be 225 minutes, or 3 hours and 45 minutes. Now while that seems easy enough, the formula doesn’t necessarily hold true when you’re dealing with SPF numbers that are higher than 30. And, unfortunately, there are numerous other factors — including humidity, sweating and contact with water — that can change that number by decreasing the overall effectiveness of sunscreen. So if you’re planning on going swimming or doing any other sort of strenuous activity, you’ll need to reapply often for your sunblock to be of much use. I personally follow the every two hour rule, especially when we are outside or at the water. Also, be sure to apply a lot! The American Skin Cancer Foundation recommends you apply around 1 oz of sunblock. The sprays can be convieient, but be sure you are careful with these since they can blow away and not actually make it on the skin.
4. Chemical or Physical?
What’s the difference between these two words? Chemical sunscreens protect skin by absorbing the sun’s rays and they do this by actually seeping deep within the skin. Some of the chemical sunscreen active ingredients have been shown to have endocrine disruption activity. Most chemical sunscreens do not provide broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB and some ingredients in chemical sunscreens can be toxic to aquatic life in oceans, rivers and lakes. Physical sunscreen are a better option and utilize zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients. Physical sunscreens sit on top of skin and physically block the sun’s rays, like a mirror. A great benefit is that they work immediately and do not seep into the skin. Zinc oxide is protective against UVA and UVB rays, unlike most chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens are the ones that appear white on the skin.
5. Prevention is best
The key to not getting that nasty sunburn is prevention. So besides applying the right amount of sunblock and applying it frequently is to avoiding too much sun when you can. Depending on what activities you are doing, try and wear clothing that will protect your skin from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays such as long-sleeved shirts and thin pants. Also, remember to protect your head and eyes with a hat and UV-resistant sunglasses. Remind your kids to stay in the shade when they can and to take frequent breaks from the sun. When we are doing activities like swimming that require us to be in the sun, I like to make the kids come out every hour and a half or so to take a few minutes drink and snack break and this will allow them to get out of the sun for a bit and also gives me the chance to reapply sunblock before they get back into the water.
Each month United HealthCare is offering new dares for you. They are all fun and simple ways to get healthy. Here are the July Dares:
Completing each dare gives you the chance to win prizes such as grand prizes of Fastraxx 2-Awning Canopy (10′ x 18′), a $400 massage gift card, or a $400 visa gift card. There is also a weekly prize of $25 visa gift card. Awesome, right?
So keep your whole family safe this summer and remember these key points to sun smartness: stick with a physical sunblock (look for the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide), apply more than you think and apply at least every two hours. I want my kids to have fun outside playing games, sports, and swimming- all while teaching them how important taking care of your skin is. Kids learn by what they see too, so don’t forget to apply to Mom and Dad. To help me remember, I keep my sunscreens in a cute basket on my kitchen counter so it’s right in my line of sight before we leave the house. Don’t forget to snap some pictures of your sun safe cuties to be entered to win those awesome prizes too and learn more about the July Dares by checking out United HealthCare online, on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
What tricks do you use to remember to apply sunscreen to yourself and your kids before you leave?
Disclosure: Thank you to United Health Care for sponsoring today’s post.