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How to Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage – Summer Sun Safety

By Casey Slide

woman smile sunscreenSummer tends to be the most expensive season of the year, rivaled only by the winter holidays. The costs for summer vacations, summer camps, pool fees, and child care quickly add up, and can lead to exorbitant debts.

However, many people neglect one of the most important expenses of the summer – sun protection. While you have fun outside on beautiful, sunny summer days, the sun’s ultraviolet rays damage your skin, causing sunburn, unsightly sun spots, wrinkles, and, in some cases, skin cancer.

You know that you need to protect your skin from sun damage, but the cost of that protection can quickly accumulate. Luckily, you can save money while protecting your skin from the sun. We’ve compiled a list of ways to save money while protecting your skin, and some strategies to save money on sunscreen to help you cut costs during the summer.

Ways to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

You should wear sunscreen every time you go outside. You can combine your sunblock with other money-saving ideas that protect your skin from the sun. These methods can save you money, and protect you from the sun’s harmful rays.

Tip: Even if you abide by these tips, you must still apply sunscreen for maximum protection.

1. Limit Your Time in the Sun
Instead of spending the entire day in the sun, limit your time outside to a couple of hours. Rather than reapplying sunscreen midway through your day, use this as your cue to go inside. This saves your skin and saves you money since you don’t have to apply another round of sunscreen.

2. Wear a Sun Hat
Women can select a stylish wide-brimmed hat, and men can choose a bucket hat or a Panama hat to help block the sun. A hat protects the top of your head, where you can’t apply sunscreen, and also offers added protection for your face and neck, often at the most at risk for skin damage. Buy sun hats at discount department stores during the off-season to get the best prices.

3. Cover Up with a UPF Shirt
I love taking my son to the city park to play in the water fountains. I also love seeing that all of the kids at the park wear protective swim shirts. These shirts have an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) which blocks out the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. A UPF of 40 to 50 blocks about 98% of the sun’s rays.

Tip: Buy loose-fitting attire, to get the greatest protection from UPF clothing. Look online for the best prices on UPF clothing; Amazon, eBay, and REI have great deals on sunblock clothing.

4. Stay in the Shade
Staying in the shade protects your skin. Consider using an oversized umbrella if you plan to go to the beach this summer. The umbrella also provides an area for you and your family to cool off after a day in the hot sun. Buy sun umbrellas for the best prices during summer sales at Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

5. Eat More Antioxidants
Eating antioxidants provides some protection against the sun’s rays. Fill up on fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of green tea this summer for maximum protection for your skin.

6. Avoid Reflective Surfaces
Reflective surfaces, such as water, snow, and sand, increase your risk of sun damage because these surfaces reflect up to 85% of the sun’s rays. People burn easily while at the beach or on a ski trip because of the exposure to reflective surfaces. If you can’t avoid these reflective surfaces, make sure every exposed body part has sunscreen, and remember to wear a hat or a cap to protect your skin.

7. Go Outside Early Morning or Late Afternoon
The sun’s rays are their strongest from 10 am to 4 pm. Try to limit your time outside to early morning and late afternoon to avoid overexposure to the sun.

8. Wear Sunglasses
Light-colored eyes have more sensitivity to the sun’s rays, but everyone should wear sunglasses when the sun shines. Sun damage to the eyes can cause cataracts and pteryguim, which block your vision. Make sure to wear glasses that have 99 or 100% UVA and UVB protection and wrap completely around your eyes, to ensure full protection. Look for deals on sunglasses during the off-season, and stock up on extra pairs of sunglasses during sales.

9. Wear Dark, Thick Clothing
Although dark, thick clothing makes you feel warmer, these materials let in less of the sun’s rays than clothing made of thin, light-colored materials. Use caution when wearing thick, dark clothing during especially hot days, however, so that you do not get overheated. Drink plenty of water and limit your time outside when wearing heavier clothing.

10. Don’t Go to a Tanning Salon
Tanning beds can damage your skin beyond repair; even more so than tanning yourself in the sun. Tanning beds rank right alongside tobacco and arsenic as major causes of cancer.

11. Have Fun at Night
My neighborhood pool stays open every evening until 11 pm, and people swim there well after the sun goes down. To avoid getting a sunburn, wait to go to the pool or to have a cookout until after the sun sets.

12. Use Sunscreen
In addition to using the tips listed here, wear sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned. Buying enough sunscreen to protect your family from the sun can quickly become expensive. I’ve compiled a list of ways to save money on sunscreen below.

sunscreen mom daughter

Ways to Save Money on Sunscreen

If you plan to leave your house at all during the summer months, you have to purchase sunscreen. Ultimately, buying and wearing sunscreen saves you money and may even save your life. To save money on this very necessary purchase, follow these ten tips:

1. Get Full Protection
The FDA has regulations for sunscreen, requiring products labeled “broad spectrum” to pass tests for both UVB and UVA protection. You can use UVB protection to prevent sunburns, but UVA protection provides protection against the more long-term effects of the sun, such as wrinkles and skin cancer. Make sure that you buy sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection. Otherwise, you may pay the price in the form of skin damage.

2. Check the Ingredients
The two main types of sunscreen include a blocker of the sun’s rays, and a sunscreen that absorbs rays and reflects them back. Use the sunscreen that blocks the sun’s rays; this type works instantly and your body does not absorb the sunblock. To ensure that you get this protection, check the ingredients and make sure they include zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. By checking the ingredients and getting the best protection possible, you save your skin from costly damage.

3. Get Generics
Generic forms of sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide work just as well as name brand products. In fact, many generics, such as CVS’s generic sunscreen, receive good expert and consumer reviews. You can also check your local dollar store to see if they sell sunscreen.

4. Check the Unit Price
You might think that you get the best deal on sunscreen by buying the largest tube or bottle, but sometimes the smaller-sized containers offer the best unit price. If you can find a better deal on smaller-sized sunscreen, consider buying several smaller sunscreen tubes to save money. Sunscreen can remain at its original strength for up to three years, according to the Mayo Clinic. So save money by stocking up on sunscreen during the off-season.

5. Buy One Sunscreen for All Family Members
Unless you have a baby or someone with sensitive skin in your family, everyone can use the same type of sunscreen. Kids’ sunscreens offer the same protection as regular sunscreen. When you look for deals on sunscreen, make sure to check prices for kids’ sunscreen and regular sunscreen and then buy the sunblock with the best unit price.

6. Use Coupons
Thankfully, sunscreen goes on sale all the time during the summer months, and you can find sunscreen coupons online. If you purchase your sunscreen on sale and with a discount grocery coupon, you can get quite a bargain. If you have experience as an extreme couponer, you can even get the sunscreen for free.

7. Properly Store Sunscreen
Sunscreen seems to get lost from season to season. You might end up purchasing more and more of sunblock because it keeps getting misplaced. To ensure that you do not have to repurchase sunscreen over and over again during the summer, designate a special place for your family’s supply of sunscreen. Store sunscreen in an area away from the sun; sunscreen loses its effectiveness if left out in the heat.

8. Spray Inside
I absolutely love spray-on sunscreen, due to its ease of use. I am much more likely to use it if I know it will only take me 30 seconds to spray it on. Parents who have kids who cannot sit still long enough to properly apply lotion also appreciate spray-on sunscreen. If you choose to use it, remember to spray it on before you leave the house to get the most out of your money. The spray tends to blow away in the wind when sprayed on outside.

9. Don’t Throw It Out
At the end of the summer, many families throw their sunscreen out. Perhaps they don’t want to store it over the winter, or they believe it will lose its effectiveness before the next summer. However, you can use sunscreen year-round because the sun’s rays can damage your skin even during the fall and winter months. Instead of throwing it out at the end of the season, hang on to your sunscreen and use it to protect your face during the cooler months of the year as well.

10. Use Your Flexible Spending Account
If you have a flexible spending account through your place of employment, check to see if you can use that money towards the purchase of sunscreen. This ensures that you spend everything in your account and put the money to good use.

Final Word

Protect your skin, your body’s largest organ, from the sun. The high costs of sun damage can include dermatology treatments, prescriptions, and surgery. If you want to protect your skin from the sun, you must invest in sunscreen. If you want to fully protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, do it right with sunscreen that has both UVB and UVA protection, and use the above money-saving tips for protecting your skin from the sun. These important investments could potentially save your life.

How do you protect yourself from the sun while saving money?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Casey Slide
Casey Slide lives with her husband and baby in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and worked for a prominent hospital in Atlanta. With the birth of Casey’s son in February 2010, she decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Casey’s interests include reading, running, living green, and saving money.

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  • http://www.moneysavingenthusiast.com @MSEnthusiast On Twitter

    Great points. People don’t think of this. It’s a hidden expense in a way. We especially do number 5. My daughter has excema so we buy one lotion for everyone. I mark my sunscreen tubes with a permanent marker to know when they expire.

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