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7 sun-safety secrets everyone should know

A woman in a hat and sunglasses

May 24, 2024—Warmer weather and lots of sunshine often means spending more time outdoors. But while that additional sun may feel good, it can be dangerous to your skin and raise your risk of skin cancer.

Here are seven steps—from the American Academy of Dermatology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—for safely enjoying the summer sun.

  1. Check your shadow. If it's shorter than you are, seek some shade. The sun's ultraviolet rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you head outdoors during that time, avoid direct sun. Set up an outdoor umbrella, or sit under a tree and enjoy the weather.
  2. Sunscreen isn't just for sunny days. The sun can damage your skin even on a cold or cloudy day. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more whenever you're going to be outside. Make sure to use it on any exposed skin.
  3. Apply sunscreen early and often. Put on sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you head outside—it takes about that long to become effective. Reapply at least every two hours or if you've been swimming or working up a sweat. And make sure you're using enough: Most adults need about an ounce of sunscreen to cover their body.
  4. Cover up as much as you can. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants is the best way to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. Even if you're at the beach, always put on a T-shirt or a beach cover-up.
  5. Wear a wide-brimmed hat. One with a full brim can shade your face, ears and neck. If you wear only a baseball cap, be sure to slather sunscreen on your neck and ears.
  6. Slip on some sunglasses. Your eyes also need protection from the sun. Choose sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Wraparound glasses will do the best job of blocking stray ultraviolet rays.
  7. Be particularly careful around reflective surfaces. These include water, sand and concrete. They reflect the sun's rays and can increase your risk of sunburn.

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