How to protect your skin this spring and summer

Spring is officially here, summer is on its way and sunshine is abundant. There are few better feelings than the sun's warmth on your face after a long, cold winter.

With all of this favorable weather on its way, you'll undoubtedly spend more time outside. Whether you're indulging in beach season or spending your afternoons tending to your gardens, the sun will surely shine down on you. In addition to the benefits sunshine provides - such as vitamin D and reduced stress levels - it can also be dangerous.

Before you embark on outdoor adventures, check out this information about sun protection.

The basics of ultraviolet rays
There are actually three types of ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun - UVA, UVB and UVC. Only UVA and UVB affect people, but many products only protect you from the former. The morning news often shows what the daily UV index is, meaning you can learn how strong the sun will be each afternoon before you determine a plan for the day.

The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Doctors recommend avoiding sunshine during these hours, although that isn't always possible. If you are outside during the hottest part of the day, seek shade often. 

"Did you know most people don't use enough sun block?"

The importance of sunscreen
The perceived value of sunblock has increased by leaps and bounds as researchers learned more about the sun's contribution to skin cancer. Although it used to be commonplace to slather your skin with baby oil and hold aluminum foil to multiply the sun's strength, these days everyone is encouraged to wear sunscreen at all times.

As you know, sunblock is labeled by its SPF. This stands for sun protection factor which indicates the perctenage of harmful UV rays being filtered out. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 protects you from 93 percent, while SPF 30 blocks out 97 percent and SPF 50 shields 98 percent of dangerous UV rays.

Did you know most people don't use enough sun block? Even when every visible part of your skin is covered, you might not be applying the correct amount to keep your skin safe. Everyone should use roughly a 1.5 ounces of sunblock when they lather up in anticipation of a day outside.

Even when it's cloudy, you're in the shade or you can't feel the sun's heat, you're susceptible to sunburn. That's why you should apply sunblock every day for complete protection. You can often find makeup and other skincare products that contain SPF 15 or 30. If your cosmetics don't include sun protection, be sure to apply a layer of sunscreen under your foundation and powder in the morning. 

When you go swimming or engage in physical activity, it's best to reapply sunblock throughout the day. Some brands claim to have sweat-proof products, but there's no harm in refreshing coverage every so often. Don't forget to wear lip balm that has SPF. The skin on your lips is thin and lacks melanin, the pigment that offers slight protection against the sun. It's difficult to see sunburn on your lips since they're already red, but they become painful and might blister.

Don't forget sunscreen on your romantic beach getaway.Don't forget sunscreen on your romantic beach getaway.

Additional protective measures
While sunscreen should certainly be your first method of defense, you can keep your skin safe from the sun's harmful rays in other ways.

When you're heading outside for a day of fun in the sun, consider wearing tightly-woven clothing that blocks UV rays. There are companies that make fabric for this specific purpose, but even a regular shirt is better than leaving your skin uncovered. You don't want to overheat in the process, so be sure you choose clothes that fit loosely and allow you to sweat.

Certain accessories can also protect your skin during warm, sunny months. Hats, especially wide-brimmed styles, cover easily forgotten spots such as your scalp, neck and ears. They also keep the sun off your face and out of your eyes. Baseball caps are good for shielding your face, but those with shade-casting brims are much more effective.

Finally, invest in a pair of shades that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses protect your delicate eyelids, your eyeballs themselves and prevent you from squinting all day.