Your New Year's goals may involve learning a second language, reading more books, or getting less screen time—these are great resolutions to have. Practicing better sun safety in the new year is also a worthwhile goal that requires minimal effort but goes a long way for the health of your skin and overall well-being.
Whether you're looking to avoid sunburns, prevent signs of aging, or reduce your risk of skin cancer, here are some sun safety habits to put into practice this new year and beyond.
Resolutions for Sun Safety in the New Year
1. Limit Your Time in the Sun
When you're going from one place to another or enjoying outdoor activities, avoiding time in the sun is nearly impossible. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the ultraviolet (UV) index is usually at its peak, so the risks of experiencing sun damage are higher. It's recommended to limit time in the sun during these hours either by staying indoors or by finding a shady spot.
Outside of this time frame, you should still practice proper sun safety since you can get a sunburn after 5 p.m.
2. Wear Protective Clothing
The Skin Cancer Foundation considers sun protective clothing to be the first line of defense against the sun.
An easy way to implement sun safety in the new year is to throw on a pair of sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat before you head outside. If you want to take it a step further, clothing that is dark, dense, and loose offers better protection. Some articles of clothing are specially made for sun protection purposes and have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating.
3. Apply an SPF Daily
You should resolve to wear sunscreen daily, regardless of the weather. Rain, snow, clouds, or shine, sunscreen should be a non-negotiable part of your daily routine. It only takes a few minutes and it's an effective measure against the sun's harmful rays. Daily sunscreen application not only protects against sunburns but against 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 90 percent of skin aging, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
When choosing your everyday sunscreen, look for broad-spectrum coverage and an SPF of 30 or greater. The EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 is intended for daily use. It's also suitable for acne-prone and sensitive skin.
4. Reapply SPF Frequently
You may already have a daily sunscreen routine, but do you reapply often? John Hopkins Medicine recommends applying SPF about every two hours, though this can vary depending on the type of sunscreen you use. Water-resistant sunscreens should be reapplied more frequently in wet conditions.
The EltaMD UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+, for example, should be reapplied every 80 minutes if you're sweating or swimming.
5. Protect the Commonly Missed Areas
When used as directed, sunscreen is a highly effective way to protect against unwanted sun exposure, but you may be missing the less obvious spots. When applying sunscreen, you may focus most of your attention on your face, arms, and legs. To thoroughly cover your skin, be sure to apply sunscreen (and reapply as needed) to these commonly missed areas that are just as prone, if not more, to sun exposure:
Front and back of the ears
Around the eyes and eyelids
Tops of the feet
Backs of the hands
Behind the knees
Back of the neck
Around the armpits
6. Get Your Skin Checked Regularly
Like an annual physical exam for your overall wellness or a yearly teeth cleaning, an annual skin exam by a board-certified Dermatologist is a good idea. Dermatologists check for signs of skin cancer and other skin diseases. You should also start performing routine self-exams to look for unusual growths or spot changes on your skin. If you have New Year's goals, be sure to add this one to your list—Dermatologists save lives.
7. Implement a Proper Skin Care Routine
Sunscreen is essential, but it's only one part of an overarching skin care routine. You don't have to use a ton of products in your routine, just start simple: a cleanser, moisturizer, and broad-spectrum sunscreen will do the job. An evening skin care routine could include a couple more treatments for targeted concerns, like a pH-balancing toner and barrier-repairing serum. Keeping your skin clean, hydrated, and protected will give you healthy, glowing skin.
Practicing sun safety in the new year is a resolution everyone should add to their list. Your skin is worth preserving and protecting. Products like broad-spectrum sunscreen and UPF sun protective clothing as well as sun safety habits like avoiding direct sun exposure and reapplying sunscreen often can go a long way. With these resolutions in place, the new year may bring fewer sunburns, slowed aging, and skin cancer prevention.