How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

Sunscreen in sand, flip flop, sunglasses, and hat in background

Are you enjoying some summer fun in the sun? Whether you prefer floating in the pool, eating watermelon at a barbecue, or sitting on a lawn chair with a good book, be sure to enjoy all your favorite warm-weather activities before autumn arrives. Additionally, make sure that you protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays so that your outdoor time doesn’t translate into sunburns, heatstroke, or even skin cancer. Scroll down to quickly remind yourself how to protect your skin from the sun.

How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun

It’s true: Less than half of seniors take appropriate steps to protect their skin from the sun. Studies have found that many seniors simply do not believe they are at a risk for sun-related cancers. Unfortunately, this is incorrect. More than five million individuals are treated for skin cancer every year in the United States, and many of them are seniors. In fact, the majority of skin cancer diagnoses are for individuals over the age of 65. 

This doesn’t mean you should stay inside all summer. You can still go outside and enjoy yourself as long as you do it safely. If you’re a senior, you should take steps to protect your skin from the sun every time you go outside. Not only does this lower your skin cancer risk, but it will help you avoid sunburns and other outdoor discomforts. Below, we’ve gathered some easy tips on how to protect your skin from the sun.

Wear Sunscreen

Some people think that they only need sunscreen if it’s especially sunny outside, but the truth is that sunscreen should be an everyday accessory. If you are going out, you should wear sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF regardless of the weather. The ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause skin damage can penetrate clouds, and even limited unprotected exposure to them can be harmful. Be sure to also apply sunscreen to your scalp, the tops of your ears, and other areas where skin is especially sensitive. Bring some sunscreen along whenever you go out so you can reapply every two hours.

Be Smart About Sun Exposure

If you’re planning to spend some time outdoors, avoid going out between 10 am and 4 pm. This is the period of time where the sun will be brightest, and temperatures will reach their peak. If you need to go out during this time, be sure to use sun protection and spend as much time as you can in the shade. 

Wear Protective Clothing

The right clothing can do a lot to protect you from the sun. When picking an outfit for a sunny day, keep these tips in mind:

  • A sunhat is a senior’s best friend. An ideal sunhat will have a wide, all-over brim that provide protection in multiple directions. Many sun hats have their SPF rating listed on their tag. 
  • Wear clothes with a tight weave and light, bright colors. A tight weave will protect your skin from the sun, and light colors will reflect sun back upwards instead of absorbing it and raising your temperature. 
  • Sleeves are great protection against UV rays. Even on the hottest days, you will be glad you are wearing long sleeves and pants when your friends in shorts are dealing with sunburns! Lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton will also provide some comfort on particularly hot days.

Ask Your Doctor About Medication Sensitivity

Depending on the medications you’re taking, you might need to exercise some extra outdoor caution. Antidepressants, antibiotics, and other medications can increase your sun damage risk. Talk to your doctor about the medications you are on, and ask them to help you determine which levels of sun exposure are safe for you this summer. 


Remembering how to protect your skin from the sun can feel like a hassle, but if you make it a habit, your skin will thank you. If you’re concerned about your sun risk, talk to your doctor and make a plan to spend time outdoors safely this summer.

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