July 14, 2023

Summer Skin Care: Protect Yourself From the Sun! 

Woman putting on sunscreen outside of her house.
Photo by National Cancer Institute.

Summer is a great time to be outside. It’s a nice way to be physically active, reduce stress, and get vitamin D. However, too much sun can be dangerous to your skin. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause sunburns, wrinkles, and even most skin cancers. 

Below are some tips from the Cambridge Public Health Department on how to protect yourself and loved ones from too much sun. Please note that these tips can be used all year round. The sun’s harmful rays can reach you even on days when it’s cloudy, and they reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. Skin protection against UV rays is a year round activity! 

Here’s how to protect yourself from the sun

Photo by Tânia Mousinho.
  • Seek shade. You can reduce your risk of sun damage and skin cancer by staying in the shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter. Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside—even when you’re in the shade.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.
    • Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard.
    • Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays from sneaking in from the side.
  • Put on a hat to protect your face, neck and ears from the sun.
    • A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. 
    • Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. 
    • Wear a baseball cap? Protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using sunscreen, or staying in the shade.
  • Dress in sun protective clothing.
    • When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts, which can provide protection from UV rays. 
    • If wearing this type of clothing isn’t practical in the summer, try to wear a T-shirt or a beach/swimsuit cover-up. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. 
    • A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one.
    • Some clothing is certified under international standards as offering UV protection.
  • Use Sunscreen.
    • Put on broad spectrum sunscreen that filters out both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or higher before you go outside.
    • Make sure to reapply! Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
    • Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than 3 years. Its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
    • Sunscreen is not recommended for babies who are 6 months old or younger. The FDA recommends keeping infants out of the sun during midday and using protective clothing if they have to be in the sun.
  • Got a sunburn? Be sure to drink water to keep yourself hydrated. Use creams or over-the-counter pain medications if your doctor allows. Stay out of the sun until skin is healed! The CDC has more information about sunburns and how to treat them.