When Environmental Working Group came out with its new 2015 Sunscreen Safety Guide a couple of weeks ago, it got our attention when we saw that their guidance was also on how to avoid relying so much on sunscreen in the first place. In fact, EWG said that “sunscreen should be your last resort.” This is actually a turn away from chemicals and focusing more on common sense approach to how to prevent sunburn. Sunscreen has become more and more necessary as we show more skin under the sun’s rays. With each passing decade, we’ve peeled off more clothes — so it’s no wonder that we’re looking for something to protect ourselves.
But, if you think about it, our grandparents and great grandparents were a lot smarter than us — they covered up! Fast forward to our day and age, what tools and ideas can you use to be smarter about your sun exposure?
We’ve put together 5 tips below to help you be smarter with sun protection ⬇
Wear clothes. It’s just that simple. This means hats, light-weight long sleeves and pants, and mesh jackets. Many of today’s sports clothes have wicking capabilities to keep you cool — it is to your advantage that your sweat is allowed to do its job under these fabrics by cooling you down. EWG says by simply covering up, you reduce your chance of a sunburn by 27%. We also write about our favorite swimsuit cover ups here, another way to get some extra SPF.
Choose your time to go out. That’s early morning or later in the afternoon or early evening. When the sun is lower in the sky, it’s less strong.
Make or find shade. This is just another way of covering up. Get under a tree, an umbrella, or a canopy (use the stroller canopy and cover the baby’s legs with light-weight pants covering any exposed skin with sunscreen). If you’re going to have a picnic and there’s not much shade, then bring along an easy-setup, portable canopy (this one is from Coleman that sets up in 3 minutes) to help you enjoy more sun protection and lower temperatures under the shade.
Wear sunglasses. Your eyes and your children’s eyes need sun protection too. Look for sunglasses that have both UVA and UVB protection — it should say so on the label upon purchase. (Here’s our article on why you have to be careful with your sunglasses choices.)
Check the UV index. This would help you further avoid harmful UV rays by indicating which days are likely to be more problematic. Accuweather.com lists current and projected UV scores under its “Sun and Sand” tab, which is great for planning ahead. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also has a daily UV index that is updated everyday. It’s based on a number scale from 0-11.