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Sun Protection: The Dos and Don’ts

adult putting sunscreen on child's face at the beach

Sun protection is crucial year-round, but especially this season. With summer in full swing, many people are taking advantage of the sunny weather by lounging outdoors, splashing in a pool, gardening, or working on a backyard project. While we like to get out and enjoy the sun, it’s easy to lose track of the passing hours and your potential for over-exposure. The sun provides us with a lot of great benefits, like vitamin D, but being outside for long periods can put you at risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion, and, over time, even skin cancer.

Check out these tips for what to do (and what not to do) to keep yourself sunburn-free and healthy.


1. Apply SPF daily.

Just like brushing your teeth, applying sunscreen should be an important part of your morning routine, too. To get the most of your sunscreen, wear a broad-spectrum (covering a broad range of UVA to UVB rays), high-SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen. Most experts recommend SPF 30 at a minimum to protect your skin. SPF is so widely recognized as a daily necessity that you can find it in many other forms besides sunscreen, like in foundations, concealers, and moisturizers. 

Just remember to plan ahead and apply sunscreen before going outdoors to help protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and prevent sunburns. 

2. Protect your eyes.

Excessive exposure to the sun can do more damage to the eyes than you might think. Harmful UV rays can cause the cornea to burn, and the eyelid is also susceptible, just like the rest of the body, to skin cancer caused by UV radiation. Simple additions, like UV-protective sunglasses and hats, can help protect your peepers throughout the year.

3. Wear UV-blocking clothes.

Child on beach putting sunscreen on face and wearing purple shirt

UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing that guards against UV rays has come a long way. Beyond breathable, long-sleeve tees, you’ll also find button-up sun protection shirts, dresses, hoodies, pants, neck gaiters, arm sleeves, and shawls that look great and provide superior sun protection.

4.  Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun without protection.

When you’re outside, make sure to reapply sunscreen as directed and take shelter in shaded areas to avoid a lot of time under direct sunlight. When eating outside, take the shady seat or ask for an umbrella to reduce your exposure. Pay attention to your body, too, and be aware of when your skin reddens or begins to feel hot. 

Learn everything you need to know about sunscreen, sun protection factor (SPF), and ultraviolet (UV) protection by reading our article, "Blocking the Blaze: The 4-1-1 on Sunscreen SPFs & UV Protection." 

Not To-Do

1. Tan in a tanning bed (or at all).

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. To avoid skin cancer, tanning beds are a non-starter. Simply put: don’t do it. The risks far outweigh the rewards, where melanoma, skin cancer, and other consequences are involved. 

Experts agree, saying that tanning, indoors or outdoors, is a no-no. If you want to get out in the sun, ensure that you’re wearing SPF beforehand. Your skin will thank you later.

2. Avoid hydrating.

Mother and sun eating watermelon slices on the beach

Being active in the sun or sitting on a beach somewhere in the sun can affect what happens inside your body, too. Staying hydrated while you’re in the sun is extremely important, however much of a chore it may seem. Don’t like drinking water? Even getting your daily hydration from high-moisture fruits and vegetables like watermelon can be helpful. Pack a fruit salad or keep a large water bottle on hand while you’re out and about this summer. 

Hydrating consistently is not only good for you, but can also help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by sunburns.

Sun Protection Tips

Try as we may, we usually don’t apply enough sunscreen or use it properly. To get the most benefit from sunscreen usage, make sure you:

  • Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors to give it time to bind to your skin.
  • Rub sunscreen lotion into the skin evenly, leaving no visible streaks behind.
  • Reapply every 2 hours while outside.
  • Use one ounce of sunscreen to cover your entire body for each application. One ounce is about one shot-glass full.
  • Don’t forget the easy-to-miss spots, like the ears, back of the neck, tops of feet, and along the hairline.
  • Reapply immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

Summer Fun in the Sun

Mom and dad with child on his back having fun at the beach

Now that you know the basic dos and don’ts of sun protection, you can have safe fun in the sun all summer long! Check out our Summer Family Bucket List for 30 creative ways to beat boredom and make lasting memories this season.