How To: Stay Safe in the Sun

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Days are getting warmer and the sun’s staying out longer, which means only one thing: summer’s on the way! This season, add more than just SPF into your sun routine. Why? The sunscreen you’ve always trusted to protect your skin may actually be doing more harm than good. Here are 5 ways to avoid sun damage this year:

1.  Read sunscreen labels.

  • Vitamin A retinyl palmitate is an ingredient found in most sunscreens. It’s an antioxidant that slows down the aging of skin tissue. What they don’t tell you is that when vitamin A comes in contact with the sun, it does just the opposite. The FDA found that the sunscreen containing vitamin A speeds up the development of tumors and lesions when exposed to sunlight (read: this happens when you lather it on).
  • Oxybenzone is a chemical found in the majority of non-mineral sunscreens on the market. This chemical penetrates the skin, causes allergic reactions, and disrupts hormone function, which is especially dangerous in children.

2. Scrap the sugar. Sugar contributes to the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end-products), which are the biochemical result of sugar and protein linking together in the body. When sugars and proteins cross, collagen breaks down, causing wrinkles and cellulite. Scary, right? Well according to the Journal of Oncology and the Journal of Dermatology, UVA rays have far worse toxic effects on skin when there is a buildup of AGEs. Time to rethink the Snickers.

3. Wear dark colors. Yes, we are debunking the myth that dark colors attract the sun. It’s not entirely true or false. Dark colors attract more heat than light hues, offering greater UV protection than lighter colors.

4. Cut back on processed foods. Dietary antioxidants (specifically omega-3 fatty acids) have been found to stop the development and progression of skin cancer. Processed foods found in the average American diet contain tons of omega-6 fatty acids that replace omega-3s. Corn, vegetable, canola, and soy oils actually promote the development of skin cancer and should be avoided. Switch to antioxidant rich foods like wild salmon, green leafy vegetables, colorful berries, extra virgin coconut oil, and fermented fish oil.

5. Choose mineral sunscreen SPF 15 or higher. SPF refers to a sunscreen’s ability to block UVA and UVB rays. SPF is said to block 94 percent of harmful rays, while SPF 30 and 45 block 97 and 98 percent, respectively. The best way to avoid sunburn is to reapply every two hours, and after swimming or sweating (from all that beach volleyball!).

Fear of sun damage is no reason to be a hermit this season. You can be healthy and safe under the sun with the right diet and knowledge!

Check out other summer safety tips. GO

Sources: Web MD, Body Ecology, FDA, Cosmopolitan