Those hot summer days are quickly approaching and families are getting excited about all those hours spent outdoors. There’s so much to love about summer, from camping to days at Horsetooth Reservoir, water fights in the backyard to bike rides on a beautiful Colorado trail. Unfortunately, all this time in the sun can end up being really harmful to your skin if you do not take the necessary precautions.
Also, don’t forget that sun protection is not just necessary in the summer. In a state that’s known for having so many sunny days throughout the year, it’s highly important that you remember to wear your sunscreen in Colorado.
Why Should I Wear Sunscreen Daily?
Just because you are not coming home with a blistering sunburn does not mean your skin is protected from harmful UV rays. Many people do not realize how important it is to wear sunscreen every day, whether or not you plan to spend much time outside.
Even if you are only exposed to the sunshine during short errands, rides in your car, or even sunlight coming through your office window, it’s important to always wear sunscreen in Colorado to protect your skin. Harmful UV rays penetrate windows and even certain clothes. Even when the sun may not even feel that hot to you, UV rays are present. Unless you are spending your days in a room without windows, applying sunscreen needs to be part of your daily routine to keep your skin healthy.
Does Higher Elevation Mean More UV Exposure?
Visitors to Colorado have often commented on how quickly they get a sunburn in our state. You may believe you are used to the sun’s intensity here, but remember, because of the higher elevation, there’s increased ultraviolet exposure. Not only does the thinner Colorado air filter out less of the UV rays, UV exposure increases by 4-5% for every 1000 feet increase in elevation, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Because many Coloradoans love living active lifestyles with all kinds of outdoor activities, sunscreen is absolutely vital to not only protect you from sunburns but also from longer-term skin issues like premature aging and skin cancer.
Do I Need Sunscreen on a Cloudy Day in Colorado?
Don’t be deceived by those clouds in the sky. Unfortunately, the clouds won’t always hinder the harmful UV rays we’re concerned about. Did you know that while clouds sometimes hinder UV rays, they can actually increase UV levels as well? That means on some cloudy days, your skin will be even more exposed to harmful UV rays than normal. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy, put on your sunscreen.
Why Should I Wear Sunscreen in the Winter?
You may be faithful in lathering on the sunscreen all summer long until the colder days start coming. However, did you know that UV rays don’t stop just because summer has ended? Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) stay around all year long. These are the rays that cause skin damage, including wrinkles, age spots, and even skin cancer. Remember, too, that at higher elevations in Colorado in the winter, even sunburns can still happen (on a ski trip, for example, when the bright sunshine is reflecting off the snow).
Can I Just Apply Sunscreen at the Start of my Day?
If you are spending time out in the sun, your sunscreen is effective on average for only 2 to 3 hours. Also, if you are swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel and neglect to reapply, you will only be protected for so long. When swimming, you should be reapplying even your waterproof sunscreen at least every two hours. If you have to be outdoors during the hottest hours of the day, reapply sunscreen as often as every hour, if possible.
What is the Minimum SPF I Should Wear in Colorado?
It’s always best to get sunscreen products with a higher SPF for the greatest protection. The minimum SPF you need in your sunscreen also depends on your skin type and how sensitive it is. People with fairer, more sensitive skin types should get a sunscreen with no less than SPF 30. Someone with less sensitive skin that tans easily can use a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
Also, how you apply your sunscreen will determine how well you are protected. Make sure you are using enough, according to the instructions on the label. Not applying the right amount means you are not getting the level of SPF you should be wearing. Keep in mind as well that even if you have a high SPF sunscreen but it’s expired, it may not give you the protection you need.
Additional Sun Safety Tips
Wearing sunscreen in Colorado or any other state throughout the year is key to keeping your skin healthy, young, and beautiful. Make sure you choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen. If possible, avoid spending long amounts of time in the sun, especially between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is at its highest intensity. In addition to sunscreen, it’s important to wear UV protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.