If you’re like us this summer then you’ve got outdoor activities planned all season long. Beautiful days practically pull us out the door because we want to be basking in the ‘feel good’ vibes that nature sends us.
July is a favorite month for a lot of us, with the warm summer sun and longer daylight hours offering us beautiful beach days, opportunities for long bike rides, cookouts with friends or family, outdoor games, celebrations, and more. With all this outdoor fun, it stands to reason that July is also UV (Ultraviolet) Safety Month. What better time than now to remind ourselves of the best ways to keep our bodies healthy and protected.
Cover Up Tips: Start Inside Before Going Outside
- Pack a To-Go Bag – It can be easy to forget the essentials of sun protection when we’re always on the go, so it may be helpful to keep a handy, to-go bag ready with sunscreen lotion and easy protective wear that’s easy to grab quickly on the way out the door.
- Sport Active Sunscreen – If we’re outside, we will probably find something fitness-related to do and even a gentle glide on a stand-up paddleboard can work up a sweat. We prefer sunscreen that won’t easily wash or sweat off, but is also free from damaging chemicals. We tend to not leave the house before we’ve applied our favorite sunscreen, before activities start and while our skin is still dry. Use our helpful sunscreen tips below to help find a safe product for you and your outdoor activity.
- Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) Clothing – UPF is a rating system used in apparel and is similar to SPF ratings used in sunscreen products. Thanks to advanced fabric technology you can wear a light-feeling, UPF protective layer of clothing without added bulk. With a lot of options, it might be helpful to know that not all UPF protective clothing offers value or protection in the same way. UPF ratings start at 15 for “good” protection and goes to the highest rating of 50+, which is distinguished as “excellent” in clothing UPF protection. All of SportPort garments use fabric that is certified UPF 50+. This means all of our activewear is designed to only allow 1/50th of UV radiation to pass through our garments to your skin! So maybe it’s time to consider throwing a SportPort Long Sleeve Cover Up Shrug into your to-go bag, or have the SportPort Tech V Fitted Long Sleeve Cover-Up Top ready to wear over your swimsuit.
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- Sunglasses – Be careful not to go too cheap on eye wear. Before you buy sunglasses, look for a UVA/UVB protection sticker or label. Sunglasses labeled UV400 are considered to protect your eyes from 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light. Sun exposure can be damaging to your eye health, so we believe in taking additional care to protect them.
- Hats and Caps – Even if you have sunscreen on your face, extra shade coverage from a good hat or cap can help protect your head and facial skin. Hats made with more tightly woven fabrics can generally provide more UV protection than light weaves, canvas or straw type hats. Our favorite is a nice tightly woven brimmed hat that we’ll throw into our to-go bag.
- Lip balm with SPF – Chapped, sun-burnt lips aren’t only unsightly, but also uncomfortable and even painful at times. Look for a lip balm with SPF protection as it’s an easy to carry along and quick to use in helping both with lip dryness and offering UV protection.
- Insulated bag or cooler – A small insulated bag or cooler can be helpful to keep snacks or drinks fresh and cool during an outing in the sun. If you are truly concerned about staying hydrated, don’t bring iced or frozen water. Lukewarm or room temperature water, about 70°, is considered better for staying hydrated in the heat or during sporting activities. But an insulated bag or cooler can be helpful to keep your water from getting too hot in the sun.
Environmental Tips: Staying Safe Under the Sun
- Take cover when you can – Not only should you try to take care to cover up, but enjoying the outdoors can be just as pleasurable in the shade. Consider exercising or a run outdoors along a tree-lined route instead of sticking to the open road. Lull yourself to the sound of the ocean from the shady comfort of a beach umbrella or pop-up shade tent.
- Avoid high risk times – The middle of the daytime, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is when UV rays can be the strongest, making this a potentially bad time to leave your skin exposed. You may want to plan your outdoor activities for the early morning or late afternoon to play it safer.
- Don’t be fooled by clouds – A gray sky does not mean you’re safe from UV exposure. The summer sun rays are strong enough to penetrate even the thickest of clouds, so it may be best to treat it as any other sunny day.
- Check your UV weather – The daily UV index, as provide by the National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, can be easy to find online or with a weather app. A UV index can give you a good indication of how strong you should expect the sun to be for that day in your area. A “high risk” of sun exposure harm is indicated when the UV index is noted at 6 or above, with 11+ being extreme!
Sunscreen Tips: What’s in Your Bottle
- At least (SPF) 15+ – There are many types of sunscreen so it can be hard to determine which one is right for you. Some types work to reflect or refract sunlight, while other sunscreens absorb the sunlight to help prevent it from harming your skin cells. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends looking for Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15 or above in your sunscreen. The SPF number indicates the sunscreen’s level of protection. For instance, SPF 30 designates that it will take 30 times longer for your skin to redden with sunscreen on than bare skin would.
- Look for these ingredients – The Environmental Working Group (EWG) suggests that these sunscreen ingredients are safe, without any other concerning side effects: Zinc oxide and 3% avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. Products with these ingredients are considered good to excellent for UVA protection.
- Try to avoid these ingredients – EWG evaluated the Federal Drug Administration’s approved sunscreen chemicals and recommends avoiding the following due to the associated reasons: Oxybenzone, which has been shown to have a disruptive effect on the body’s hormone system; and vitamin A, retinol, and retinyl palmitate which may accelerate skin lesions caused by sun damage.
- Apply before you go out – We mentioned earlier that we tend to apply our sunscreen before going outside. It’s also suggested that it can take about 15 to 20 minutes to properly penetrate and offer protection, meaning that you don’t necessarily want to jump into a pool two seconds after applying your first layer of sunscreen for the day. There’s also still some debate about choosing lotions or sprays. We believe that the choice should come from the one you are most likely to use.
- Reapply often – If you are outside for an extended period of time it can be helpful to reapply your sunscreen about every 2 to 3 hours, to ensure you have continuous protection, and especially if your activities take you in and out of the water.
Your love for sunny days does not have to be thwarted by fear of sun damage. Be safe, stay protected and have fun!