How to protect the skin from sun damage

This article explains simple ways to protect the skin from harmful UV rays of the sun. Applying sunscreen lotion and keeping skin well moisturized can prevent sunburn and other signs of ageing such as fine lines, age spots and wrinkles.


When we step out in the sun, especially during summertime without following precautionary measures for skin protection, we are doing too much harm to its health. Harmful rays of the sun not only darken skin and also burn it. Also, UV rays cause premature signs of ageing such as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. If we want to keep our skin healthy and free from blemishes and signs of ageing, we have to protect it from sun damage. The most common cause of sun damage is that we get lazy and thus, we do not take precautionary measures to prevent it. Some of us like the tanned skin and that is also a possible reason for not preventing sunburn. Whatever may be the reason, we need to protect our skin from harmful sun rays which can be achieved by adopting certain measures mentioned in this article.

Reasons to avoid sun damage

The sun damage may result in the below-mentioned conditions. So, we have to avoid sun damage to keep our skin healthy.
  • Sunburn,
  • Dryness and leathery skin,
  • Loss of skin elasticity,
  • Skin cancer,
  • Fine lines,
  • Wrinkles,
  • Brown and red spots,
  • Spider veins,
  • Uneven skin tone,
  • Blotchy complexion

Ways to prevent sunburn

  1. Wear right
    Scorching sun rays during summers can cause too much damage to the skin. It does not mean that during the rest of the year, we can walk around freely. Intense sun rays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. also cause too much skin damage. It is better to avoid stepping out in the sun during these hours. If it cannot be avoided, it is important to cover skin properly and completely. Wear full sleeves t-shirts and long trousers or skirts. Wear a bucket hat. Do not purchase the one which is made of straw. It should be made up of canvas. Carry an umbrella that will serve the dual purpose of covering the head as well as protecting the skin. Cover the face with a mask or scarf. Fabrics which are dark in colour and tightly woven are recommended as they easily absorb harmful UV rays and protect the skin. Cover feet with shoes and socks. It is not recommended to go shoeless or wear open-toed sandals when the sun is at its peak.

  2. Drink right
    Scorching sun's rays, especially during summertime, can dehydrate the body by causing too much water loss in the form of sweating. If that amount is not replenished back, it can cause a fluid imbalance in the body which will also show its effect on the skin. Skin reflects inner health. Thus, the skin will become rough and dry. Dryness is caused directly due to too much sun exposure and also due to imbalance in body fluids. Thus, it is essential to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day. Hydrate the body which will ensure the skin remains well hydrated. Hydrated skin can easily overcome sun damage when compared to the skin which is dry and flaky. Along with water, healthy drinks such as coconut water, sugarcane juice, freshly extracted juices, green tea will also serve the purpose.

  3. Eat right
    Certain nutrients such as vitamins, essential minerals and antioxidants can protect the skin from sun damage. Eating such nutrient-rich foods will keep the body healthy and in turn, keep skin hydrated and glowing. Sun rays can produce free radicals which are responsible for causing damage on the cellular level in the skin. Foods that offer protection against free radicals should be included in a daily diet plan which will offer protection against harmful effects of sun damage and decrease the risk of suffering from skin cancer. Certain fruits and vegetables which are rich in nutrients such as avocado, tomatoes, soy, broccoli and sweet potatoes should be consumed. Nutrients present in these fruits and vegetables increase collagen production and fight against free radicals generated by sun rays.

  4. Keep skin well moisturized
    Moisturized skin can effectively overcome sun damage than the one which is dehydrated, dry and scaly. Drinking enough water will ensure the skin remains well hydrated and moisturized from inside. Whereas from outside, apply a good moisturizer depending on the skin type. Applying it before bedtime is more beneficial as it gets well absorbed into the skin and initiates the cellular repair. Day to day sun damage on the skin can be healed effectively by keeping skin well moisturized and well hydrated.

  5. Apply broad-spectrum sunscreens
    Before stepping out in the sun, make sure to apply sunscreen lotions to all the exposed parts of the body. When purchasing sunscreens, it is important to pick a broad-spectrum one which will ensure that it will effectively block harmful UVA and UVB sun rays. UVA burns skin more than UVB does as they penetrate deep enough. UVA can cause skin dryness, ageing and also increase the risk of suffering from skin cancer. UVB causes skin burns and increase the chances of skin cancer. Also, no matter what weather conditions are prevailing outside, it is important to wear sunscreen before going out. Irrespective of whether it is raining or freezing outside, do not hesitate to apply sunscreens. The reason is that harmful sun rays can penetrate the thick clouds and cause damage to skin even in rainy and winter season. SPF 30 is widely recommended. However, one can choose sunscreens with higher SPF if required.

  6. Avoid sunbathing and suntan
    Those with fair skin love to see the change in their complexion when exposed to sun rays. It is usually called as a healthy tan. It is a strict no to go for sunbath or to develop a suntan, especially in case of those who have a very fair complexion. Rather than developing a suntan, they end up burning skin. Too many attempts over years increase their risk of skin cancer. Tanning products accelerate the process of sunburn by increasing the effects exerted by harmful UV rays on the skin. Also, avoid tanning beds and do not believe in anything that is advertised as safe tanning. UVA rays emitted on the skin on tanning beds are also damaging to the skin making it prone to sun damage and skin cancer. Always remember that tanning is the sign of damaged skin irrespective of how appealing it looks to the eyes.

Tips related to sunscreen lotion

  • Sunscreen lotions require some time to penetrate the skin. Thus, apply it at least 30 minutes before stepping out in the sun.

  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Some of us sweat a lot. In such cases, more frequent reapplication is recommended.

  • Make sure all the exposed parts are covered properly with sunscreen lotions. Thus, take a generous amount. If a thin coating is applied, the product will only be effective by 50%. Apply a thick layer on the skin.

  • Do not leave lips unprotected as lip skin can also suffer from sun damage. Wear a lip balm with SPF in it. Reapply as and when required. For example, after eating or drinking anything. It is because there are chances that lip balm may get wiped away. Thus, ensure to reapply it immediately.

  • When we speak of exposed areas of skin, we usually think of face, neck, hands and legs. However, there are lots of other areas which are not taken care of. As a result, they suffer from sun damage. Apply sunscreen on the hairline, ear tops, and palms to prevent sun damage.

  • If going for swimming or headed to snow or sand, ensure to reapply sunscreens more frequently as there is a chance of suffering from dual damage. Firstly due to direct exposure of sun rays on the skin and secondly sand, snow, as well as water, reflect UV rays.

  • Those who are 6 months and older should apply sunscreens. The skin of babies who are below 6 months of age can be protected by covering with proper clothing and by keeping them under shades.

  • Irrespective of skin tone and texture, it is important to apply a generous amount of sunscreen on the skin. Dark toned skin may not undergo effects such as too much change in complexion but is prone to other harmful effects of sun damage such as ageing and skin cancer.

  • Sunscreens are available in the form of lotions, creams and ointments. All of them are effective. Also, sprays, powders, wipes are made available. However, their effectiveness against sun damage is yet to be proved.

  • When going out in the water for swimming, apply water-resistant sunscreens. Such products will ensure the skin remains protected from UV rays of the sun for a certain period after getting wet. Such products will remain effective for 30-80 minutes after the skin gets wet.

  • Always check for an expiry date. Applying the sunscreen products after their expiration date will do no good for the skin. Moreover, using them after expiry date can do more harm to skin health. Thus, throw away such products immediately.

  • If wearing foundation or makeup, make sure to first apply sunscreen lotion before wearing them. Certain makeup products such as foundations, primers, serums are coming with SPF in them but instead of applying them directly, it is always beneficial to use sunscreens underneath such products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are sun tan and sunburn the same?
Sun tan is a change in skin colour. It may turn red or black, but gradually skin will be restored to its original colour. Sunburn is harmful to the skin where too much damage is caused to it leading it to prematurely age and increasing the risk of cancer.
Is sun damage permanent?
In the majority of cases, damage caused by the harmful rays of the sun is permanent leading to loss of elasticity of the skin and broken capillaries. However, with proper skin routine care, one can improve the appearance of the skin.
What is SPF?
SPF is a sun protection factor. The higher the number attached to it, the higher will be the protection against the harmful UV rays of the sun. SPF 15 can only block 93% but SPF 50 can block 98% of UV rays.
Can sunscreen cause vitamin D deficiency?
Sunscreens do not cause vitamin D deficiency. A small amount of sun exposure is enough to absorb Vitamin D in the body. One can easily get it within a short amount of exposure while sitting on the open balcony or while watering the plants.
Which are the safe sunscreen ingredients?
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safe sunscreen ingredients. Try to purchase sunscreens only after going through the ingredients list on its cover.
What type of sunscreen is good for sensitive skin?
People with sensitive skin should go for physical sunscreens also known as sunblocks. Safe ingredients within them deflect and block harmful UV rays from penetrating the skin.
What are chemical sunscreens?
Chemical sunscreens when rubbed into the skin do not leave any white residue. They absorb harmful rays of the sun and do not just deflect them and therefore are considered to be more effective.
Can sunscreen cause skin allergies?
Sunscreens do not cause any skin allergies. It is a certain ingredient in it that may be causing allergy or a preservative added might be doing the damage. Changing the product will do the trick.

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