You’re Getting More UV Exposure Than You Think


As the days stretch longer and the warmth of the sun intensifies, there’s nothing quite like the joy of stepping outside to soak up some rays and enjoy the great outdoors. But as we eagerly embrace the return of sunnier days, it’s vital to stay aware of the sun's strength. While sunlight brings energy and joy, it also carries invisible ultraviolet rays that can pose significant risks to our health. Excessive exposure to these rays isn't just about the discomfort of sunburn; it's a serious concern with long-term consequences, from premature aging of the skin to an increased risk of developing skin cancer. Understanding and managing your exposure to the sun is crucial, not only for maintaining healthy skin, but for overall well-being. Here’s what you need to know.

Understanding UV Exposure and Its Risks

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is about more than just getting a tan. UV rays are a type of non-ionizing radiation that is emitted in two primary forms that concern our health—UVA and UVB. UVA rays are known for their ability to penetrate deep into the skin, contributing to premature aging and long-term skin damage, while UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburn and play a significant role in developing skin cancer. Both types of UV radiation can contribute to basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, the most common types of skin cancer, as well as to the development of melanoma.

Unexpected Sources of UV Exposure

It’s a common misconception that UV exposure happens only by direct sunlight on sunny days. Here are a few less obvious ways you're absorbing those rays without knowing it:
  • Driving or Riding in a Car: UV rays can penetrate through windows—even tinted ones—exposing your skin as well as your eyes as you drive.
  • Sitting by a Window: Similar to cars, sitting by a window at home or work can expose you to UV radiation throughout the day.
  • Cloudy Days: Though clouds may provide a false sense of protection from UV exposure, up to 80% of UV rays can pass through clouds.
  • Reflection from Snow, Water, or Sand: That’s right—we need sun protection even in the winter months. Snow-covered surfaces can reflect UV rays, increasing exposure, especially during activities like skiing and snowboarding. And in the summer, the same is true of reflections from the water, white sandy beaches, and other surfaces. 

Melanoma Awareness and Protection

May is Melanoma Awareness Month—a critical time to underscore the importance of diligent sun protection. At Panama Jack, we're proud supporters of the Melanoma Research Foundation and their mission to eradicate melanoma by accelerating medical research while educating and advocating for the melanoma community.  Having a comprehensive sun protection strategy is vital when it comes to preventing skin cancer, so let's dive into the basics.

Strategies for UV Protection

Protecting yourself from UV exposure is key, no matter the season or setting. Here are practical ways to safeguard your skin:
  • Use Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: Always choose a sunscreen that offers Broad Spectrum protection, ideally SPF 30 or higher, to shield against both UVA and UVB rays. Remember to apply at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure, and to reapply according to the package instructions (generally every 80 minutes), or immediately after swimming or sweating.
  • Wear Protective Clothing: Incorporate UV-protective clothing into your wardrobe, such as Panama Jack’s performance shirts, which offer additional protection without sacrificing comfort or style.
  • Don Hats and Sunglasses: A wide-brimmed UPF-rated hat can provide significant protection for your face, ears, and neck, areas particularly vulnerable to UV damage. Pair this with UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes and the sensitive skin around them. 
We all love basking in the sun's warmth, but understanding and managing our UV exposure is crucial for maintaining long-term health and preventing skin cancer. By taking proactive steps—like using appropriate sunscreens, wearing the right clothing, and being mindful of unexpected UV sources—we can enjoy the sun safely. Let's not underestimate the power of protection; visit Panama Jack to equip yourself with the best in sun care and after-sun products as you prepare for your sunny adventures.