Sweaters and pashminas? Check! Boots and booties? Check! Sunblock? Check!
Wait, sunblock? Yep. Don’t put it away. The sun may be a bit shyer this time of year, so most people think this makes them less at risk for sun damage and skin cancer. Ummm, not exactly …
Last weekend I went apple picking at Smolak Farms in North Andover. Gorgeous day! I figured, “Hey, summer’s over. I can just throw on some SPF15 with my Jackie-O glasses and I’m all set.” I came home with a farmer’s tan. Yuck. Epic fail.
Although the sun might not feel as strong, UV rays can still be pretty intense. Don’t let the cooler temperatures fool you. You still need to protect yourself.
Can you let your guard down a little bit? Possibly. It depends on where you live. I’m a Bostonian (but you probably knew that from the name of my business) and the UV index is definitely lower this time of year. A daily SPF 15 moisturizer is sufficient if you are not engaged in prolonged outdoor activity; if you’re going apple picking or frolicking in a pumpkin patch in the middle of the day, then bump up to SPF 30. Also, if you live in some of the warmer, sunnier states, you should consider sticking to an SPF 30 year round.
Not sure what to look for in a sunscreen? The FDA has changed the labeling guidelines for sunscreens to ensure more integrity in products and to make it easier for you to know what you are buying. Read the labels and look for the following:
- SPF 30 or higher to protect against UVB rays.
- “Broad-Spectrum Coverage”, which means you are also protected from UVA rays.
- Water resistance. There is no such thing as “water proof.” If the label claims water resistance, it must state for how long.
My favorite sunscreen products are from Hylunia and MD SolarSciences. The Environmental Working Group (@ewgtoxics) has given these products a thumbs up for consumer safety, and MD SolarSciences also gets a tip of the hat from The Skin Cancer Foundation. Both brands are paraben, chemical, and fragrance free … plus they won’t clog your skin. And MD SolarSciences has a stick formula that is great for when you are on the go; TSA won’t take it from you at the airport!
Not sure of the UV index where you live? MD SolarSciences products come with a cool little “UV Predictor” strip in the box. Simply hold it out in the sunlight and it tells you exactly what your risk factor is and when you need to re-apply. Or you can use this cool UV Awareness site developed by our pale pals in Ireland. You can get a live stream of the UV index anywhere, anytime.
Keep in mind that in New England scaling mountains for hiking and leaf peeping are downright essential for an optimal autumn experience. And guess what? While it might be cooler in them thar hills, the UV index is actually higher than it is down below at the base. So go apple picking, have fun in the pumpkin patch, trek to a mountain top and peep them leaves, but just don’t go unprotected. Your skin will love you for it.
Bridget M. Riley, R.E.
Boston Skin Solutions
“We Give Good Face.”