Summer Sun Safety

Enjoy the Outdoors Safely: Essential Sun Protection Tips to Prevent Skin Cancer

Summer Sun Safety

Spending time outdoors offers excellent opportunities for physical activity, stress reduction, and vitamin D absorption. However, it is crucial to safeguard your skin against the sun to avoid increasing your risk of skin cancer while working or playing outside.

Skin cancers often stem from excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which is emitted by the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays have the potential to harm skin cells.

Protecting your skin from UV rays remains essential throughout the year, regardless of the season. Even on cloudy or cool days, UV rays can penetrate, and they bounce off surfaces such as water, cement, sand, and snow. In the continental United States, UV rays typically peak between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during daylight saving time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time).

The UV Index provides daily forecasts regarding the strength of UV rays. If the UV index registers at 3 or higher in your location, take precautions to shield your skin from excessive sun exposure.

Shielding Your Skin from the Sun

Seek Shade

Minimize your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays by seeking shelter under an umbrella, tree, or any other protective structure. Even in the shade, it’s important to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing to safeguard your skin effectively.

Choose Clothing Wisely

Opt for long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or skirts whenever possible, as they offer substantial protection against UV rays. If full coverage isn’t practical, consider wearing a T-shirt or a beach cover-up. Look for garments made from tightly woven fabrics, as they provide superior protection. Keep in mind that wet clothing, particularly T-shirts, offer less UV protection than dry ones, and darker hues typically provide more shielding than lighter ones. Some clothing items are certified under international standards for their UV protection.

Wear a Hat

Select a hat with a brim that encircles your head to shield your face, ears, and the nape of your neck for optimal protection. Choose hats made from tightly woven materials like canvas, as they effectively block UV rays. Avoid straw hats with gaps that allow sunlight to penetrate. Darker-colored hats may offer enhanced UV protection.

If you prefer a baseball cap, ensure you protect your ears and the back of your neck using clothing, sunscreen, or staying in shaded areas.

Eye Protection with Sunglasses

Shield your eyes from UV rays and lower the risk of cataracts by wearing sunglasses. Additionally, sunglasses safeguard the delicate skin surrounding your eyes from sun damage.

Choose sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays for optimal protection. Most sunglasses available in the United States, regardless of price, meet this criterion. Wrap-around sunglasses are particularly effective as they prevent UV rays from infiltrating from the sides.

Protect Children

Keep infants under six months old out of direct sunlight. Dress them in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs and use hats and umbrellas for shade.

Avoid Tanning Beds

Avoid artificial sources of UV radiation, such as tanning beds and sunlamps, as they increase the risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

Sunscreen Application

Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen, which filters out both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 15 or higher before heading outdoors. Ensure a generous application on all exposed skin surfaces and enlist assistance for hard-to-reach areas such as your back. Remember, sunscreen performs best when used in conjunction with other protective measures.

Note: It is advisable not to use sunscreen on infants under 6 months old. Instead, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping babies out of direct sunlight during midday and dressing them in protective clothing if exposure is unavoidable.

  • SPF: Sunscreens are graded with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF), a numerical scale that gauges their efficacy in filtering UV rays. Higher SPF values signify greater protection. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher for comprehensive defense.
  • Reapplication: Sunscreen efficacy diminishes over time. Reapply it if you remain under the sun for over 2 hours, or after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel.
  • Expiration Date: Always check the expiration date of your sunscreen. If there’s no expiry date listed, its shelf life is typically no more than 3 years. Exposure to high temperatures may shorten its lifespan.


  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, April 18). Sun Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.