By NICOLE HURBAN
Summer is on its way. Everyone knows that means the warm weather will draw us outside to experience it. Even though the weather will allow for outdoor fun in the sun, we have to be aware of what the sun can do. The sun produces three different types of rays, which are classified as visible, infrared and ultraviolet (UV). The rays that harm our skin the most are ultraviolet. These rays are also classified into three groups, which are UVA, UVB, and UVC. Out of the three, only UVA and UVB rays reach the Earth’s surface. UVC rays are extremely hazardous to the skin, but don’t worry. This type of ray never reaches the Earth’s surface because it is completely absorbed by the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer. UVA and UVB rays have the potential to seriously harm our skin when the amount of exposure is too long and proper measures are not taken to protect the skin. In an online government article released by the CDC, it states, “UVA is the most abundant source of solar radiation at the Earth’s surface and penetrates beyond the top layer of human skin. Scientists believe that UVA radiation can cause damage to connective tissue and increase a person’s risk for developing skin cancer. UVB rays are less abundant at the Earth’s surface than UVA, because a significant portion of UVB rays is absorbed by the ozone layer. UVB rays penetrate less deeply into the skin than do UVA rays, but also can be damaging.” Many people think that it needs to be sunny and warm for the effects of the ultraviolet rays to take a hold of our skin. In fact, individuals experience sunburn more than when it is sunny because they forget to protect themselves. It seems to be a shame that we have to protect ourselves from something that is so comfortable to bask in, on a clear summer day. There are many ways to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays at all times. The CDC has listed many ways we can properly protect ourselves from the sun, but still allow for outdoor enjoyment. They states that, 1. When possible, avoid outdoor activities during midday, when the sun’s rays are strongest…the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 2. You can also wear protective clothing, such as a wide brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. 3. For eye protection, wear wraparound sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV ray protection. And always wear a broad-spectrum (protection against both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen, and lip screen at least SPF 15. Remember to apply generously 3o minutes before going outside and re-apply especially after swimming or sweating. 4. Also, check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years. Exposure to extreme temperatures can shorten the expiration date or shelf life of sunscreen. With these tips, we can take better care of our skin, but still enjoy the time we have in the sun.