Are you? Regularly? It’s important and we all know it.  We protect things like our cars, homes, and computers but we don’t consistently protect ourselves to prevent potentially devastating consequences.  I’m talking about sun protection. Gotcha!

Spring has sprung and summer is on the way! With the mercury rising, we’re showing more skin, hanging out at the beach, and regularly participating in outdoor activities. Sunscreen and other forms of sun protection are an absolute must at this time of the year. While the consistent use of sun protection is necessary and beneficial to our health no matter the season, it is during the warmer months when we’re strutting our stuff, that it’s even more important.

To my melanin poppin’ cousins: Yes, black will crack (if it isn’t protected). Though there are higher amounts of melanin in darker skin and melanin provides a certain level of sun protection, it is still susceptible to sun damage and will burn. The immediate effects are more difficult to see on darker skin, so people of color are often diagnosed with later-stage melanoma and tend to have lower survival rates. Keep it poppin’ with protection!

A good combination of chemical (sunscreen) protection and physical protection (clothing) offers the best results. Sunscreen, in particular, protects us from the harmful radiation of the sun (UV rays). This radiation can trigger skin disorders, cause premature aging, sunburn, and increase the risk of skin cancer. There’s a ton of information available about the use of sunscreen and its benefits, so I won’t get into all of them but it is important to know a couple of key things. Don’t use expired sunscreen! It’s about as good for you as drinking spoiled milk. Follow product instructions for use and reapplication.  Typically, we should re-apply every two to three hours during sun exposure.

Sun protection doesn’t begin and end with sunscreen. We have other tools in the arsenal to keep us from harm.  Your fashionable sunglasses are more than just fashion and serve to protect the eyes and the skin around them. Unprotected eyes are susceptible to cataracts as a result of UV damage. I first learned about this as a young adult. Until then, I thought cataracts were just a result of aging. I was wrong.

Hats and clothing are also important. Full-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts provide excellent additional coverage and help to create the ultimate sun protection kit.

The sun is magnificent. We bask in its warmth and play in its rays.  Play hard. Have fun. Use sun protection.

(The cup pictured here was left in the car on a hot sunny, day. Just imagine what the sun does to unprotected skin?)

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