Sun Protection: Skin in the Game

Hat laying poolside. Photo by Jude Stevens from Pexels

Sun Protection: Skin in the Game

The Colorado sun is intense. Protect yourself from the sun while you have fun with these tips from Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

While you’re having fun in the sun, make sure to keep your skin safe—too much sun can mean an uncomfortable blister now and age-accelerating or even cancer-causing skin damage later. Modern research has shown that you need protection from both the longer-wave Ultraviolet A rays that penetrate the skin and the shorter-wave Ultraviolet B rays that mostly damage the surface.

The best way to avoid excess exposure is to stay out of the sun. That doesn’t mean stay indoors all the time, but find shade wherever you can when outdoors. At Iron Mountain Hot Springs, that can mean taking a break from the sun in the Sopris Café or beneath of one of our umbrellas. By the way, if you’re worried about getting enough Vitamin D, the American Cancer Society advises that food and vitamin supplements are more reliable ways to get what you need.

The cancer society also recommends a four-part approach—Slip! Slop! Slap! & Wrap!—to ensure adequate protection when you’re out in the sun. Remember, the sun’s rays are reaching Earth every day, even when it’s cool or cloudy, and the most intense time is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you’re shadow is shorter than you are, you’re getting more direct rays.

  • A hat, sunscreen, glasses are part of sun smart soakingSLIP on a shirt. Clothing can help protect your skin, but some cloth is more effective than others. If you can see light through the fabric, then light is reaching your skin. Tighter weaves are more protective. So are darker fabrics, and dry cloth is more effective than wet. Some manufacturers coat their fabrics with UV protection and label the level they provide. Some laundry products even add UV protection.
  • SLOP on sunscreen. An ounce of sunscreen, roughly a palm full, is usually enough, but it must be reapplied at least every two hours. Sunscreen should be part of your protection plan, not a replacement for other strategies. Modern sunscreens list their protection levels. SPF 30, the minimum recommended level, means that 30 minutes of protected exposure is equivalent to 1 minute of unprotected. Make sure to get broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning it protects against both kinds of ultraviolet rays. Some cosmetics also contain sunscreen.
  • SLAP on a hat. The hat should have a brim of at least two to three inches all around in order to protect your ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp, which are especially susceptible to sun damage. Straw hats are less protective than tightly-woven materials. A shade cap provides more protection for your neck, or you can wear a bandana or handkerchief under a baseball cap.
  • WRAP on UV-blocking sunglasses that protect your skin as well as your eyes. Larger frames or wraparound styles cover more area. The label should say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements,” meaning the glasses block at least 99 percent of UV rays. Those labeled “cosmetic” block 70 percent. Be sure to get real sunglasses, not toys, for the kids.

We hope these tips help keep you covered when it comes to soaking in the sunshine at Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

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Gene Stowe

Gene Stowe was a reporter for The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer for 13 years and head of the writing program at Trinity School at Greenlawn, a four-time U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School in South Bend, Ind., for 10 years before he became a full-time freelance writer in 2008. His first book, Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie’s Will, was published in 2006. He lives in Monroe, N.C.