Last Updated on September 9, 2021
Whether winter or summer, spring or fall, there is one item you should always wear in the outdoors: sunscreen. While we often shrug off the cautions of sun damage, protecting our skin from the sun is as crucial as buckling our seat belts, locking the doors, and the many other precautions we take in life. As much as I would like to embrace the tanned and leathery skin look, unfortunately there are greater concerns to sun exposure. But how to protect yourself from the sun most effectively?
But I Never Burn?
From a young age I’ve been aware of the sun’s damage first-hand (thanks to my pale skin, freckles, and the many sunburns). However, for those who really have no affects from being in the sun, protection is less of a priority. While the “non-burners” may not feel immediate changes in their skin, they are still receiving large amounts of sun exposure that can lead to issues down the road.
What’s so bad about the sun?
Most of the time I welcome the sun’s rays that shine through the trees and brings warmth, especially on those bitter cold camp mornings. I mean what could really be so dangerous about that? Let’s shine a little light on the science behind these incoming rays. There are three varieties of rays that cause damage to our skin; UVC, UVA, and UVB. Due to the ever important ozone layer blocking most UVC rays, we are left to defend our skin from UVB and UVA. Prolonged exposure to these rays can lead to unpleasant sun burns, cornea damage, and skin cancers such as melanoma. As the old saying goes, an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the case of sun protection, it may literally take an ounce to prevent years of damage.
When and How Should I Protect from the Sun?
Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the peak hours for sun exposure, nonetheless sun protection should be applied any time you step outside. Don’t be fooled by overcast skies either, those UV rays can still reach through the clouds and cause damage. Start each day on the trail by applying sun screen on areas exposed to the elements. Then continue to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. The sunscreen bottle will state how often it should be reapplied.
“I hate the feeling of sunscreen.”
If you are anything like my husband, the layer of sunscreen on your skin can make you feel like a dirt magnet. Luckily there are other options for sun protection outside of the generic sticky lotion or spray form. I personally prefer mineral powdered sunscreen, especially for my face. Whichever sunscreen you choose, be sure it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
With today’s modern technology, clothes are also labeled for sun defense. Look for those with a SPF number, which lists the sun protection factor of the clothing. Hats, sunglasses, scarfs, and bandanas are great ways to protect your face and neck from those rays. If those items do not have a SPF number listed, hold the fabric up to the light and observe how translucent that fabric is. The more light shines through, the less protections those items will offer. Any other areas that are exposed to the sun should be covered with sunscreen. Look around for the sun defenses you prefer to wear. Your skin is worth the investment.
Don’t forget the skin
It’s fun to be in the sun! Whether on the trail or walking down the street, protecting your skin from the sun’s rays should also be a priority to enjoy the most of your day and future skin. Before your next adventure, be sure to evenly apply your favorite sunscreen, grab your hat, and sun glasses. Then bring along a bit more sunscreen to reapply later. You may even find yourself saving the day for someone else who forgot theirs. You and the skin covering you is too valuable to be affected by sun damage. Don’t forget the skin on your next outdoor outing!
If you have a favorite sunscreen for the trail, share it below. We would love to hear from you!