We have already established the benefits of being outdoors and in the sunlight. Read my blog called “Get into the Light” for additional information. However, with all the benefits from getting direct sunlight on our skin, there are some negative side effects.

Sadly, due to the degradation of our ozone layer and increased radiation from our sun, we have to protect ourselves from our warm and life-giving star. We can experience horrible sunburns, damage to skin, early onset of wrinkles and ultimately we may get skin cancer from increased exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Thankfully, there are many ways to shield ourselves other than just staying indoors. Let’s start with the obvious. Clothing can cover our bodies but not all clothing is created equal. Generic t-shirts may feel light and comfortable but sunlight can seep through the fabric and let the sun damage our skin.

Light colored shirts and shorts are sold with an SPF rating which can help keep you cool and protected.

Light weight arm and leg covers may seem counterproductive when trying to stay cool outside, but if you choose white or light colored covers, you can enjoy the cooling feeling they provide. Large brimmed hats are helpful for keeping your face, nose, neck and, depending on the size of hat, your shoulder from getting direct sunlight during the warmest parts of the day.

More options

If clothing is not going to cut it for you, then you should learn a thing or two about sunscreen. Sunscreen is a creamy, liquid substance that, when applied to the skin, can aid in protection from the sun. Sunscreen comes with an SPF rating. SPF is the Sun Protection Factor. Ideally, the higher the SPF score the greater protection it provides. It does this by blocking the UV rays coming from the sun. SPF 30 is the most common level purchased. It is suitable for most people and skin types. The numbering system of SPF is a little confusing. The rating is related to the amount of UV rays it can block. SPF 15 can block 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 can block 97% and SPF 45 can block 98% of UVB rays. Comparatively, SPF 50 has only 1% greater protection than PSF 30.

So perhaps you can save money by not purchasing the more protective SPF 50, rather get the SPF 30 and reapplying more often. Speaking about reapplying, additional sunscreen should be reapplied around every two hours. If you are swimming or sweating while being under the sun, then make sure you reapply in two hours.

Remember that sunscreen does have an expiration date. The FDA says you can use the same sunscreen bottle for three years. So it’s time to throw out those sunscreen bottles from 1994.

For those of you who enjoy a tan, there is no need to go outside without sunscreen to get that tan you are hoping for.

Sunscreen will fade over time which will more gradually give you that sun-kissed look.

Doing this will protect your skin while enjoying the sun, rather than the alternative of not using sunscreening and letting your skin bake in the sun until it is burned to a crisp.

If you do burn your skin, apply aloe vera to your skin regularly. If burns are severe, consider medical intervention. While we are at it, please avoid tanning beds or booths. The risk of skin damage is not worth the temporary tan look. Please take care of the skin God gave you!

from the inside out

One aspect of protecting your skin from damage most people do not think about is what they put in their bodies. Nutrition and hydration are key to maintaining and repairing our skin. The top layer of skin is known as the epidermis. The skin that we see is the oldest form of the epidermis. We need a healthy diet for our skin to be at its best when at its last stage of growth.

Rather than give you a list of specific foods that help keep skin healthy, consider that a diet centering around healthy foods that are helpful for the inside of your body are also helpful for the outermost part of our body. A diet rich in whole foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts benefits our health in almost every aspect.

My favorite protection

I do want to share my favorite ways to protect my skin from the harmful UV rays. Trust me, if you haven’t tried it, it’s about time you should! It combined all the benefits from sunscreen without sunscreen with the benefits of a perfectly, protective clothing. Are you ready for this?! My favorite way to enjoy the beautiful sunlight is called shade. Have you ever just sat under a large shade tree with a cold glass of water and just looked out at God’s beautiful creation? I highly recommend it.

If you would like to know more from professionals about protecting yourself, consider visiting www.cancer.org.

Let’s remember that this broken world is temporary. The sun was never meant to hurt us. One day, we will not have to protect ourselves from the sun because Christ himself will provide all the light and warmth we need.

In the meantime, we should take care of our bodies as best we can while we are here. Even while enjoying the beauty that is God’s creation. “Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun” (Ecclesiastes 11:7).