Protecting your skin from the sun is important. Studies have shown that a consistent sunscreen application with a water-resistant SPF30 or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen is a great place to start. Apply consistently every two hours when outdoors. Exposure to the sun, particularly long term, can increase the risk of melanoma, squamous cell, and basal cell cancer. It also worsens conditions such as autoimmune disorders, melasma, and skin aging.
The big news is that no sunscreen can completely eliminate UV light (ultraviolet light) one hundred percent of the time. Using other smart forms of sun protection can contribute to your UV protection and help you keep sun exposure at a minimum. Below are tips for protecting your skin from the sun from other sources without SPF-type sunscreen protection.
Protecting Your Skin from the Sun Year-Round
One of the key ways of protecting your skin and eyes from the sun is to avoid the sun during peak hours year-round. Typically, peak hours of sun exposure are between 10 AM and 4 PM. Many people think they are less likely to be sunburnt in cloudy weather or cold winter, but this is not true. Sun protection should be worn in all seasons. Surfaces such as glass, sand, or water can reflect the sun onto your skin and increase chances of damage.
High altitudes are also an exposure concern because the air is thinner. With less of the earth’s atmosphere to block the sunlight, it is easier to get sun damage. Scientists estimate that UV exposure increases approximately 4% for every 1000 feet in elevation, no matter the season of the year.
Wear Sun-Protective Clothing to Reduce Sun Exposure
Covering your skin with long sleeve shirts and full-length pants – covering all your skin possible – will prevent sunshine from heating skin. Dark fabrics are more likely to block the sun than white fabrics or fabric that is loosely woven. For added protection with clothing, consider finding clothing that will include ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) built into the fabric. It is essentially the equivalent of SPF lotion, but built into the fabric of the clothing directly.
Wear broad-brimmed hats which will shade your face and neck. Travel hats of all kinds also come with UPF as a part of the fabric. Be sure to wear sunglasses as well. Sunglasses can protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes if they have a certified UV rating.
Stay in the Shade to Protect Your Skin from Sun Exposure
It seems obvious, but protecting your skin from the sun simply by staying under a covered patio or spending time outdoors in a shady area really helps. Creating a covered patio, installing a pergola or gazebo, or planting shade trees around your outdoor activity areas, are a terrific ways to introduce more shade to a patio or outdoor room.
In Arizona, where it is extremely hot and sunny, I originally had a goal of reducing heat exposure by increasing shade on my patio [see photos]. Thankfully it also helped my family reduce UV exposure from direct sun contact. We love the Wood Room with Louvered Roof from Yardistry. Base dimensions are about 13 feet by 11 feet and enables outdoor entertaining with far more shade.
List of Patio Shade Ideas for Protecting Your Skin from the Sun
Umbrellas –Like people have been doing for centuries; it is possible to shade yourself with an umbrella. Use a large patio umbrella or a cantilever umbrella over your outdoor tables and seating areas in order to give yourself a bit more sun protection. When searching for an umbrella for your patio, be sure to get an umbrella that is four feet wider than the table when expanded.
Sun Sails, Sun shades, and Outdoor Curtains –Shade cloths or sun sails are great for temporarily shading an area. Installing requires a building, tree, or fence where the sun sails can be anchored. Curtains and sun shades can be an excellent block of sun. Simply hang them around a patio or gazebo area.
Pergolas and Gazebos –Gazebos are free-standing structures with a completely covered roof that are great for protecting your skin from the sun. Pergolas are similar, but they usually feature a lattice or louvered roof of some kind. I installed a Yardistry’s Cedar and Aluminum Louvered Room and it has significantly reduced the sun exposure on my back patio [see images of my pool patio area in this post]. This has been a perfect solution that has both reduced heat and reduced light exposure.
Awnings and Window Coverings –Both awnings and window coverings can protect your skin from the sun, but they are typically located closer to the building. This means that it does not always shade a seating area, but instead shades the windows directly.
Protecting your skin from the sun is easier when you utilize smart shade solutions in your outdoor rooms and entertaining areas. Whether you cover your skin directly or cover the patio where you are sitting, protecting your skin means you will reduce your cancer risks and live a little healthier.