You probably consider yourself a sun-savvy woman. You know to apply sunscreen, one with a high SPF, before exposing your skin to midsummer rays. You do your best to avoid the sun during peak hours (though a little sunshine can do you goodit's a major source of vitamin D. Here's why vitamin D is important to your health).
And you wouldn’t dream of stepping foot on the sand without your wide-brimmed hat. But what you don’t know could be raising your risks for bad burns, skin cancer, and aging wrinkles.
We uncovered several glaring holes in the average sun-protection plan and asked top dermatologists for clever ways around them. Here, five simple things you can do to safeguard your skin more effectivelyand raise your SPF IQ.
1. Play it safe near windows
Think you’re safe behind UV-coated glass in your car? Even when your windows are up, damaging UVA rays can pass through the glass. Car windows filter UVB rays, which is why you don’t get sunburned. But only windshields block UVA rays, which cause damage beneath the surface of your skin that can lead to wrinkles and skin cancer.
In 2007, researchers at St. Louis University School of Medicine found that people who spend a lot of time behind the wheel tend to develop more skin cancers on the left side of their heads, necks, and armsthe side nearest the driver’s window. That’s why dermatologists say we all should wear sunscreen in the car.
Howard Fein, MD, a dermatologist in Palos Verdes, California, goes one step further, recommending that people who drive long distances or have medical conditions that make skin sensitive to the sun (like Psoriasis or Lupus) have UV-proof coatingssuch as those by Llumar or 3Mapplied to their windows.
“They block 99 percent of UVA and UVB rays,” he says. If that’s not in your budget (UV-film application starts at about $150), wear sunglasses and lower the sun visor for added face protection.