As Canadians enjoy a Victoria Day long weekend and the Americans look forward to Memorial Day Weekend I thought it might be appropriate to talk about Sun Skin Care. May is also Melanoma Awareness Month.

I have a very pale sun sensitive skin. I don't burn I rash. And I have a history of skin cancer in my family. So I am always cautious about my sun exposure. Recently it became apparent that my 5 year old son has the same skin issues. It is nearly impossible to keep a young boy inside on a sunny spring day when all his friends are outside. So I have been learning more about how to protect him, and thus myself, better from the sun.

We all hear the tips to better protect yourself from the sun... wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from UVA and UVB rays... limit exposure during middle of the day when the sun is its strongest...wear a hat and sunglasses... but do we really follow them??

There are no Short Cuts to Sun Protection

Through my son it has been easy to see when we take short cuts the cost to our skin.  The rule in our house is that my son is never to go out without a hat and sunscreen.  But sometimes steps are skipped because we think the "danger" is  less and shouldn't be a problem. Like when Grandpa skipped the sunscreen for an early morning walk because the sun wasn't that high in the sky yet = rash.  Dad skips both the hat and sunscreen for a visit to the farmer's market on a cloudy day = rash. I make sure he has his hat, but skip the sunscreen for a late afternoon visit to the park = rash.  In all cases we had immediate evidence that we were underestimating the power of the sun and the UV rays.

In Canada we only have a few months of summer and none of us wants to spend it sitting inside. So as you proceed outside here are a few other things to keep in mind.

  1. Cloudy Days - The stats vary depending on the source, but the overall scientific lesson is that clouds do NOT protect you from UV rays. My new saying is "... if there is daylight there is UV". I wear a SPF 30 moisturizer year round and also apply a 30 SPF or higher sunscreen if I am going to spend time outside.
  2. SPF Sunscreen - Most of us don't use enough or re-apply often enough.  The common recommendation is to re-apply every 2 hours or after you swim or exercise.  And apply more of it to give yourself better coverage. A palm full of sunscreen is required to cover your body. There is some great information on sunscreen facts at the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation.
  3. Hats - The width of the brim of your hat, and the material it is made of are important.  My son has several full brim hats, but that wasn't giving enough protection to his neck. So he now also wears a collared shirt to school.
  4. UPF Clothing - Think about the clothing you are wearing and how it protects you from the sun. A regular t-shirt or towel may only provide 6% protection from UVA/UVB rays. Consider wearing tightly woven clothing or clothes with a UPF rating.  UPF is the rating applied to clothing specifically designed for sun protection regarding the level of UV protection. UPF 50 is the highest rating available.
  5. Sun damage ages us. This one is the kicker in my 40s.  Sun damage and sun spots start to become more apparent as we age. And while none of us is likely to look like the old lady in All About Mary, we still don't need any help in looking older any sooner than necessary.

Shopping for UV Protective Clothing

You can imagine I have spent just a bit of time lately searching UPF clothing. Some for the little guy. And some for me. Sun protection rating is important. Style is important. Materials that won't itch rashy skin are important. Materials that will breath and not make you overheat are important.

And while there is lots of cute kids sun protective clothing. The same is not necessarily true for women. This is changing. But the reality is that most of the UV protective clothing is meant for a beach vacations or outdoor sports.  And not necessarily meant to look cute while shopping with your girlfriends.  And for Canadian much of it is only available online through the US.

My shopping list for sun protective clothing is short:  a nice white shirt and a hoodie. Casual items, that are easy to mix and match so I can wear on weekends or take on trips to sunnier locations.

I have discovered one Canadian supplier UV Couture that I like.  Heather McCartney started by designing sun shirts for herself in 2009. She has expanded this to a small line of sun shirts with UPF 50. Her shirts are available online and in select retailers. The shirts range in sizes XS to Large. With XL being added in the next few weeks.

What do you do to protect yourself from the sun?

This is not a sponsored post and I have received no compensation for my opinions above.