Everything you need to know about Sun Protection


Welcome to the ultimate guide on sun protection! Whether you're relaxing by the pool, out at sea, or simply enjoying a sunny day outdoors, understanding how to protect yourself is key to maintaining healthy skin. So, grab your favorite drink, sit back, and let's dive into the world of sun protection together!

Understanding UV Rays and their Effects on the Skin

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation waves are invisible rays emitted by the sun that can harm our skin. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and can cause damage skin cell’s DNA. UVB rays primarily affect the outer layer of the skin, leading to sunburns and skin damage. The ozone layer blocks UVC rays from the sun, so we can only be exposed to them from an artificial light source.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “radiation?” You probably imagine the Hulk or X-rays, but simply put it's the emission of energy as electromagnetic waves. You’ll most likely hear the terms “harmful UV rays” and “radiation” regarding sun protection. Without sounding too doom and gloom, it is important to know the significance of sun protection because excessive exposure to UV radiation can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. It's crucial to protect your skin from these invisible dangers by taking simple preventive measures like wearing sunscreen, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing. By being aware of these effects and taking necessary precautions, you can reduce the risk of sun-related damage while enjoying time outdoors safely.

Different Types of Sun Protection: Sunscreen, Clothing, and Accessories

It is not uncommon to see a fellow tourist getting a wicked sunburn after underestimating the sun in Florida. If you have experienced an intense sunburn before, you know that it is not only painful but the consequences are more than just sensitive skin. Prolonged sun exposure without protection can lead to DNA damage to the skin cells directly. Sunburns may seem temporary, but the damage caused can leave a lasting impact beneath the surface.

There are multiple ways to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Let's start with the most obvious, sunscreen. Although, not all sunscreens are created equal. Next time you are in the market for sunscreen, I urge you to look for the active chemical ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate. Most generic sunscreens contain this chemical and it is NOT reef-safe.  Fun fact: sunscreens containing these ingredients are banned in Hawaii; because, studies have shown that these chemicals harm marine environments and ecosystems, including coral reefs. So if you plan to take a dip into the ocean, make sure you opt for reef-safe sunscreen, like Stream2Sea or ProjectReef

If you plan to lounge by the pool or go on a hike, the generic sunscreen would work just fine. Of course, there are other factors when it comes to sunscreen like tinted, SPF level, and water resistance. The type of sunscreen you choose ultimately depends on your personal preference and activity.

Clothing also protects against UV radiation. Prioritize clothing that has a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating when getting ready for outdoor activities. For instance, many of our rashguards boast UPF 50+ protection, which is not only the highest UPF rating achievable but also makes them ideal for extended periods under the sun. Some rashguards come with a hood to protect your head, neck, and ears. Which leads me to hats! 

Besides clothing, hats are important accessories for protecting oneself from the sun. You should choose hats with broad brims, as they shade not only your face but also your neck and ears.

Moreover, sunglasses serve a dual purpose as both a stylish accessory and a crucial tool for eye protection against UV radiation. Choosing sunglasses with UV-blocking capabilities ensures not only visual comfort but also safeguards the delicate tissues of the eyes from potential harm.

Common Misconceptions about Sun Protection

One common misconception about sun protection and UV rays is that you only need to protect your skin on sunny days. The truth is that UV rays can penetrate through clouds, so it's important to wear sunscreen even on overcast days.

Another misconception is that one must be in the sun to tan. You can still tan or burn in the shade. If UV light is reflected onto you, your skin absorbs it. Snow and sand, in particular, are very reflective. In addition, tanning beds are not a safe way to get a tan. The UV radiation from tanning beds can be even more damaging than the sun, increasing your risk of skin cancer and premature aging. 

Lastly, some people believe that applying sunscreen once a day is enough for all-day protection. In reality, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you're sweating or swimming.

By being mindful of UV rays and taking proactive steps to protect your skin, you can enjoy the outdoors safely while keeping your skin healthy and radiant for years to come. I know it may be tedious and bothersome to apply these sun protective practices but your skin will thank you for doing so in the future. 


What is SPF, and how does it work?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which indicates how well a sunscreen protects against UVB rays. It's a measure of how long it takes for skin to redden when using sunscreen compared to when not using it. For example, SPF 30 means it would take 30 times longer to burn than if you weren't wearing sunscreen.

How often should I apply sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if swimming, sweating, or towel-drying, as it can wear off over time.

Do I need to wear sunscreen on cloudy days?

Yes, UV rays can penetrate clouds, so it's important to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days to protect your skin from sun damage.

What is UPF in clothing, and why is it important?

UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) indicates how effectively clothing blocks UV radiation. It's crucial because wearing clothing with a higher UPF rating provides additional protection against harmful UV rays.

Are all sunglasses equally effective at protecting my eyes from UV rays?

No, not all sunglasses provide adequate UV protection. Look for sunglasses labeled as providing 100% UV protection to ensure they block both UVA and UVB rays.

Can I get sunburned through clothing?

Yes, some clothing offers limited protection against UV rays. Darker, tightly woven fabrics generally provide better protection than lighter or loosely woven materials.