Not All Shade Is Created Equal

August 11th, 2011 | General News, Nutrition and Health

You may remember a post I wrote about the confusing messages in the media about sun safety, but this new study really brings that to a new level.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that people who use sunscreen more often are more likely to experience sunburns.

What? Are you just as confused about this as I was? Reading further through the article, it suggests that those who diligently use sunscreen create a false sense of sun security and spend more time in the sun than those that use less sunscreen and simply seek shade or cover up.

That makes more sense. But this can still be misleading. To start, you should always wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15, but optimally SPF 30. Reapply sunscreen every couple hours (more if you’re fair-skinned) and anytime you go swimming or sweat a lot. New information from the FDA states that there is no sufficient evidence to suggest a sunscreen can be sweat proof or waterproof. If you do get sunburned, lessen your discomfort with Terrasil.

Another way to protect yourself from overexposure to UV rays is to seek shade. But not all shade will fully protect you. Because UV rays reflect off different surfaces, you have to be aware of how protected you really are.

Here are some tips to be aware of:

UV rays bounce. White snow can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun’s rays. Sand and concrete reflect up to 12 percent and grass and water reflect up to 5 percent.*

Wear wide-brimmed hats. Make sure the hats you wear cover your face, ears and neck.

Invest in a larger umbrella. Although they can block direct sunlight, the level of UV rays present under an umbrella can be as high as 84 percent of the sun. A good gauge to know how well you’re umbrella is protecting you is to observe how much sky you can see while underneath it. One small umbrella on the beach doesn’t provide nearly as much protection as a large canopy-type umbrella.

Trees are just like umbrellas. A small tree in the park won’t provide the level of protection a full forest or a very large tree provides.

Clothing can protect you, too. Companies like Coolibar sell fashionable and functional UV protective clothing ranging from hats, jackets, hoodies, swimwear and even titanium-lined umbrellas.

How do you protect you and your family from the sun? Leave your tips for safe sun practices in the comments below!

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