May is designated Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and with this beautiful Spring, we thought it would be beneficial to provide our readers with some safe sun tips to protect your skin.

One of our aestheticians here at The Waldorf Center, Shannin Lowe, refers to sunshine as the “Kiss of Death” because the sun’s UV rays cause at least 90% of all skin changes associated with aging in an average person. We are lucky to have Shannin on our staff to ask about safe sun practices. Other excellent resources for information are the AAD and the Skin Cancer Foundation.

There are two types of ultraviolet rays: long wave (UVA) and short wave (UVB) rays. UVA are the rays that penetrate your skin more deeply, and cause a breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers. They are the “aging” rays and the melanoma-causing rays. UVB are the “burning” rays (most powerful midday), and are the safer, Vitamin D-producing rays.

Sunscreen is your friend when you are outside—be it sunny or cloudy. Although we live in a relatively wet and grey climate, it is still important to apply sunscreen before heading outdoors. When it is cloudy and rainy, 80% of the sun’s rays can pass through, and harm the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is vital that you purchase a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. A sunscreen with both UVA and UVB blockers that is also water resistant is a must.

A Tip from Shannin: Look for a sunscreen that is approved by either the AAD or The Skin Cancer Foundation.

One myth about sunscreen application is that only people with fair skin need to apply sunscreen. This is not true! All skin—light or dark—is susceptible to melanoma, so slather it on.

How much sunscreen should you slather? For women of average weight and height, a full shot glass full of sunscreen (one ounce) is the proper amount to cover all exposed areas of the body. Some typical areas that get missed are the tops of the ears and scalp. Melanoma on the scalp is the most common type of skin cancer because so many people neglect this area. Wearing a hat is also a great way to insure that the scalp is protected after swimming and sweating has dissolved the sunscreen.

Some people wait for 15 minutes after being exposed to the sun before they apply sunscreen because “it allows for Vitamin D to be soaked into the skin.” In reality, the American Academy of Dermatology says that sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outdoors, in order to properly protect you from the sun.

A Tip from Shannin: Eat foods rich in Vitamin D, and ask your doctor about taking a supplement of Vitamin D3 in order to get your daily allowance of the vitamin.

Often, sunscreen is not enough to fully protect your skin from the sun. Wearing protective clothing and seeking shade are the best ways to insure you stay completely safe. It is also beneficial to protect yourself when you are around water, sand, and snow, as all of these surfaces reflect the sun’s rays making them extra harsh on your skin.

If you over do it in the sun, the best way to treat a sunburn is to take a cold bath, drink lots of water, and to take some ibuprofen/aspirin to reduce the swelling and pain. Make sure to moisturize excessively after your skin is burned or damaged.

A Tip from Shannin: Eat a healthy diet rich in anti-oxidants for healthy skin. Try an OxyVital Facial as therapeutic treatment for traumatized skin.

While you are out enjoying the lovely weather this Memorial Day weekend remember these safe sun tips, and…slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on that hat!