You don’t need me to tell you that August is the hottest month of the year. However, what you may need me to tell you (okay, remind you…) is how to protect yourself from DC’s often brutal sun and heat.
In case you have been lax in your sun care, it bears remembering that the consequences of too much sun are no fun. Painful sunburns, premature aging of your skin, and possibly deadly skin cancer are not worth the price of sun worship. The hours between 10 am and 4 pm are the most hazardous.
Let’s see what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggests:
Use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher. Choose one that provides both UVA and UVB protection.
Sunscreen wears off. Reapply every two hours. Also reapply after you swim or perspire.
Check the sunscreen's expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years. The shelf life is shorter if the product has been exposed to high temperatures.
Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
Loose‐fitting, long‐sleeved shirts and long pants made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection from the sun. A wet T‐shirt offers much less protection than a dry one. Darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors.
If wearing this type of clothing isn't practical, at least try to wear a T‐shirt or a beach cover‐up. Keep in mind that a typical T‐shirt has an SPF rating lower than 15, so use other types of protection as well.
For the most protection, wear a hat with a wide brim (all the way around the hat) to shade your face, ears, and the back of your neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, works best to protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. A darker hat may offer more UV protection.
If you wear a baseball cap, protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, using sunscreen with at least SPF 15, or by staying in the shade.
Sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts. They also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.
Sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays offer the best protection. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around styles offer the most protection.
You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter before you need relief from the sun. It’s always a good idea to use sunscreen and/or wear protective clothing even when you're in the shade.
Serena’s Bottom Line: Ok to BBQ the burgers. Not OK to BBQ your skin!