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Sun Smart

Sun Smart
By Jennifer Dawson

Summer in Mississippi is special, isn’t it? We have to be extra cautious and careful. While the sun gives us Vitamin D and beautiful sunsets, it comes with its drawbacks. Just one bad sunburn in childhood doubles the risk of melanoma later in life; five sunburns at any age can also double the risk. But a day on the beach doesn’t have to mean coming home with burnt shoulders and a red nose. Take these necessary precautions so you don’t let the rays stop you from having fun in the sun!

Slather It On

Sunscreen is one of the most quintessential items people use to combat the damage the sun can have on our youthfulness. Sun damage can have long-term effects on the skin, including premature aging and wrinkles. Prolonged exposure decreases the skin’s natural water content and increases our daily need for skin hydration. UVB wavelengths penetrate through windows and glass, so some dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen not just outdoors, but indoors as well, if you’re exposed to the sun through your windows. UVA rays deteriorate our cells and can trigger skin cancer, so make sure you use a sunblock that has a broad-spectrum label to defend against both types. Everyone should use sunscreen, however, babies 6 months and younger should stay out of the sun and away from the cream as the product can be too harsh on their sensitive skin. Allergic reactions can take place, although these sorts of instances affect less than 1% of the population. Ingredients like fragrances or particular chemicals could be the cause for such reactions. Always read labels for instructions, test a patch of skin on your child’s arm, and seek medical advice if a rash or reaction occurs.

Cover Up

Wearing clothes like long sleeves and billowy pants might sound like a strange idea, but sunscreen alone will not protect you completely. Wearing breathable clothing that is made of natural material of the right color can help keep you cool and protected when you’re out and about. Scientists have even found that cotton fabrics, dyed a deep blue or red, protect against UV rays better than other colors. Unbleached cotton is known to have certain pigment called lignin that helps to absorb the harmful rays, making it not only lightweight, but protective as well. Velvet and thicker, heavier fabrics reportedly guard the best of all fabrics, but if you’re about to be in heavy, humid conditions, a breezier t-shirt would be more comfortable than the black turtleneck.

Accessorize and Protect

Getting a sunburn through your clothes can still happen, so where clothing and sunscreen fall short, certain items and accessories pick up the slack. Similar to the fabrics for clothing, the materials in hats have a certain amount of protection. Luckily, most hats nowadays are made with fabric suitable for UV defense; the ever-popular straw hats look stylish and lend coverage, with a bonus of air circulation to keep your head cool. Baseball hats cover the scalp but wide-brimmed hats provide extra coverage for the neck and ears as well. Don’t let your kids squint either; the sun’s effects on our eyes can lead to cataracts, muscular degeneration and other issues. Choose the right pair of sunglasses for everyone in the family, preferably ones that will block 99 to 100% of UVB and UVA rays. Umbrellas can help pull your outfit together as a final step -either a golf umbrella for the entire family at the beach or personal umbrellas for a walk outside. Shade alone isn’t enough, but with hats and sunglasses, the extra additions will better guard you and your loved ones.

Going out to enjoy a day in the heat and beaming sunshine doesn’t mean the family has to come home with blistered backs and awkward tan lines. Before going to the water park or a picnic at the beach, protect the skin with appropriate sunscreen, cover your body with breathable clothing, and add finishing touches to protect yourself as much as possible. Practicing proper skin care, especially during the hot summer, guarantees not only a more comfortable time with your family, but safeguards your health for years to come.


Jennifer Dawson left her corporate 9-5 to pursue her passion of freelance writing and to spend more time with her kids.

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