Sun Safety: Sun Protection Tips, SPF & Beating the Heat

Sun Safety: Sun Protection Tips, SPF & Beating the Heat

Publish Date April 19, 2024 4 Minute Read
Author Kroger Health Team

Sun Protection Tips: Sunscreen, Hydration & Heat Safety

As the weather warms up, so does our desire to get outside and enjoy the sun. But along with the fun comes the need to take care of our skin and overall health. Here, we’ll talk about why using sunscreen is important and share tips for enjoying the outdoors safely. From choosing the right sunscreen to finding ways to stay cool in the heat, we’ll help you make the most of this summer while staying safe and protected.

What is Sunscreen and How Does It Work?

Sunscreen is a type of skincare product that protects the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun. It’s usually made with active ingredients that absorb, reflect or scatter UV rays, stopping them from penetrating the skin. By forming a protective barrier on the skin's surface, sunscreen helps prevent sunburn and premature aging and reduces the risk of skin cancer caused by both prolonged and recreational UV exposure.

What SPF Should I Use?

SPF, or sun protection factor, measures protection against UVB rays, which have shorter wavelengths than UVA rays. UVB rays primarily affect the outer layer of the skin, causing sunburn, signs of aging and contributing to the development of skin cancer. Although UVA rays can also cause skin damage, SPF specifically refers to the level of protection against UVB radiation. When choosing sunscreen, look for formulas that are labeled as “broad-spectrum,” which defend against both UVA and UVB rays for comprehensive sun protection. As a general rule, SPF 30 is recommended for daily use, while SPF 50 or higher is a good choice for most outdoor activities.

How Do I Know Which Kind of Sunscreen is Best?

Selecting the perfect sunscreen can depend on a lot of factors, including your skin type, what activities you have planned and your personal preferences. When shopping for sunscreen, keep the following points in mind:

  • Broad-spectrum protection: Opt for sunscreens labeled as "broad-spectrum." These formulas provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • SPF: Choose a sunscreen with a proper SPF level based on your sun exposure.
  • Water resistance: If you plan on swimming or sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen. These formulas are designed to better stick to wet skin.
  • Skin type: Consider your skin type and sensitivities. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, consider choosing an oil-free formula. If you have sensitive skin, you might want sunscreen formulated to be gentle and free from fragrance.
  • Application preferences: Sunscreens are available in various forms, including lotions, creams, gels, sprays and sticks. Sprays may be convenient for quick application, while sticks are handy for targeted areas like the face.
  • Additional features: Some sunscreens offer additional benefits, such as moisturizing properties, antioxidants or formulations that provide additional skincare benefits.

How Often Should You Reapply Sunscreen?

How often to reapply sunscreen will depend on your activities, amount of sun exposure and type of sunscreen you're using. With that in mind, here are a few general guidelines to follow:

  • Apply every two hours: Regardless of your activities, it's typically recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours to help maintain its effectiveness.
  • Apply after swimming or sweating: If you're swimming or engaging in activities that cause heavy sweating, you should reapply sunscreen after toweling off or every 40 to 80 minutes, depending on the sunscreen's water resistance level.
  • Apply generously: Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin, including commonly overlooked areas such as the ears, neck, lips and the tops of the feet.

How to Stay Cool in the Heat

Just as sunscreen is important for protecting your skin, staying cool is equally crucial in preventing potential heat-related illnesses. Knowing how to prevent heat exhaustion could be lifesaving. On days when excessive heat is unavoidable, remember these cool tips:

  • Stay hydrated: Hydration is vital. Ensure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty. Try to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.
  • Wear lightweight clothing: Choose loose-fitting, breathable fabrics that allow sweat to evaporate and air to circulate. Additionally, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for added heat and sun protection.
  • Limit outdoor activities: Minimize outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day. When outside, take frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas to cool down.
  • Use cooling products: Keep your body temperature in check with cold compresses, cooling towels and other products designed to combat the heat.
  • Eat light meals: Whether hosting a summer party or looking for lunch for yourself, avoid heavy, hot meals that can increase body temperature. Instead, opt for lighter, refreshing foods such as fruits, vegetables and salads for your summer recipe collection.
  • Take precautions during exercise: If exercising outdoors, try to schedule your workouts during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late evening.

Remember to drink lots of water before, during and after exercise.

How Much Water Should You Drink a Day?

We all know that drinking water is important, but how much is enough? While the recommended amount of water you should drink varies based on individual factors, a widely cited guideline says to aim for eight glasses a day. Given that hydration needs differ from person to person, it's important to listen to your body's thirst signals and be mindful of common dehydration symptoms, such as feeling thirsty, having a dry mouth, experiencing headaches or having a rapid heartbeat. By ensuring that you drink enough water to support proper hydration levels, you’re quenching your thirst and supporting your overall health at the same time.

What are Some Common Symptoms of Overheating?

Overheating, also known as heat exhaustion or heatstroke, occurs when the body's temperature regulation mechanisms become overwhelmed. Recognizing warning signs and symptoms of overheating is essential for heat illness prevention and avoiding potential complications. Some common symptoms of overheating include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Pale or flushed skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Fainting

If you or someone else experiences any warning signs of dehydration or overheating, it's crucial to take immediate action to cool down and prevent further complications. In an emergency, please contact a healthcare professional immediately.

For more wellness solutions, pharmacy services and helpful tips, head to our Health Services page. A world of care is in-store, ready to support you on your wellness journey, every step of the way.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.