Playing sports is always more enjoyable when it can be done outdoors. When the clouds part in the Pacific Northwest, chances are, every member of your tribe heads outside for some active fun. Whether your family plays tennis, shoot hoops, or swims—keeping their skin safe while they worship the sun is a must! Gone are the days of “getting a base tan” in order to avoid a burn. Instead use the following sunscreens and tactics to protect your loved ones from skin cancer and premature aging.
This obvious suggestion is a bit more complex than it might seem at first. Choosing the right sunscreen and applying (and reapplying ) it correctly is key. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen or block with an SPF of 15 or higher. Make sure the block you choose protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays affect the top layer of skin and cause burning. UVA rays affect the under layers of skin and cause premature aging.
Choose the Right (Sun Protection Factor) SPF
Understanding SPF is key to choosing the right sun protection. Have you ever wondered what the SPF number actually means? SPF tells you how much additional time you can spend in the sun without burning. If you typically burn after 20 minutes of sun exposure, then you can be outside 15 times longer without burning when wearing a sunblock that has an SPF of 15. Choose your SPF based on how long you plan on staying on the court or in the pool.
Know the Difference Between Sunscreen & Sunblock
Sunscreen is not the same a sunblock. It is made up of chemicals designed to absorb UV rays and must be applied 30 minutes before you head outside. Block is designed to create a physical barrier against UV rays and works immediately. Make sure you know what you are applying and head out accordingly.
Natural Sunscreens (Know the Facts)
Many outdoor enthusiasts are interested in seeking alternative, mineral-based sunscreens that are being referred to as “natural”. These sunscreens use ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide while chemical sunscreens and block use ingredients like avobenzone, ecamsule, and octicalate. Mineral sunscreens are only effective when used properly, which means applying them so that they are thick (to the point of visibility). It is important to note that according to a 2016 Consumer Reports study that analyzed four years of sunscreen testing data, only 26% of natural sunscreens met their the SPF claim.
Sunblock inevitably gets diluted throughout the day by sweat or water. Regular reapplication ensures you avoid dilution and receive maximum protection, however it doesn’t extend the amount of time you will be protected from the sun’s rays. If you plan on staying outside for a long period of time, use a higher SPF.
Choose the Best Time of Day to Play
According to the AAD, the sun’s rays are the strongest and most damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get your play time or outdoor workouts in during the early morning hours or the late evening hours. If you are outside midday, choose sunblock with a SPF of 30 or higher.
Use Sun-Safe Clothing
Wear outdoor and active clothing with a high Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30 or above. There are several clothing lines that create tennis apparel that is designed to protect athletes and outdoor enthusiasts from burning. Visit BloqUV to peruse a full line of clothing products that will keep your skin safe on the court and off. REI also offers a variety options for both men and women.
Put a Hat On It
Sun hats are a must when you are out under the sun for an extended period of time. If a hat makes you feel too hot, try a sun visor for eye and face protection. Or checkout our RecTennis performance hat made with water repellent material.