Ultraviolet rays are part of the energy emitted
from the sun, and their radiation is
what all the concern is about, as they
can cause damage to our skin and eyes.
They have the capability of penetrating
our skin and damaging cells, which can cause
sunburn or eye damage, such as cataracts,
or worse, macular degeneration, which can
result in blindness.
These rays are measured in nanometers (nm),
based on their wavelengths and are
graded as UVA, UVB, and UVC.
UVA, which is the lower energy level,
has a wavelength of 315 to 400 nm;
UVB, 280 to 315 nm; UVC, 100 to 289 nm.
The "UV Index" is a grading
system for the measurement of strength
of the sunís rays for any particular
day and location. The intensity of
ultraviolet light is stronger at
elevations above sea level, as well
as locations close to the equator ...
a good thing to remember when traveling
to areas with a typically high UV Index,
if this is unfamiliar to you.
When the UV Index is rated at 6-7, this
is considered a high risk for unprotected
sun exposure, so sunglasses and a sunscreen
with SPF 30+, a wide-brim hat, protective
clothing, and reduced time in the sun
during strong mid-day sun is advised.
If the UV Index is at 9-10, this is
considered a very high risk for sunburn,
so try to stay out of the sun for extended
periods of time. When the risk is considered
extreme, a wide-brimmed hat is advised,
as well as seeking shade whenever possible.
Also, the rays are strongest during peak
solar noon hours, so limited time in the
sun during those hours can also help.
Wearing lightweight clothing with
good coverage can offer additional
Although UVA may not cause sunburn,
it can deeply penetrate the skin
and be indirectly damaging;
UVB light directly causes skin damage
through radiation, destroying DNA
molecules in skin cells, which can
result in skin cancer.
If you are planning a day in the sun,
it's a good idea if you can
check the "UV Index"
Now, let's take a look at some of the
ways you protect yourself from receiving
too many damaging ultraviolet rays!
Sun hats come in a variety of fabrics,
shapes, styles, colors, and brim sizes ...
although where your sun protection is
concerned, it's more important to select
a sun hat based on your activity rather
than on your clothing. Of course, you
would like your hat to compliment your
clothes or "go with" your outfit,
but beyond that, there are some other
considerations to make if you want it
to do the job it's intended to do.
And, don't be afraid that your hat
will mess up your hair ... you can
change your hair-do, but you've only
got one skin! And, a hat also protects
your hair from becoming too brittle or
baked in the sun ... tuck it under your
hat if you can!
Some of the basics of sun protection
are a hat, sunscreen, lip balm with
sunscreen, and sunglasses with a
UV protection rating of 100% for
both UVA and UVB. We are going to
explore some of the considerations
when selecting a sun hat.
First, let's consider the conditions you
may encounter while out in the world with
your hat ... for instance, if you are going
to be on a boat, you will most likely want
a hat that fits snuggly and comfortably so
it doesn't catch the wind, which secures
under the chin so it doesn't blow away.
Or, if you will be taking a hike, you may
wish to be wearing a "flap hat"
that covers the back of your neck ...
the lightweight fabric may also extend
to wrap around the front of your face.
Also, another important consideration
regarding conditions is the question of
whether or not there will be a lot of
reflected ultraviolet light. Beach sand
and sea foam throw bounced-off UV rays,
as does snow-covered ground.
These types of conditions require some
thought when selecting the type of hat
to wear, so don't forget about them!
The brim of a hat is what creates the
shade on your face, and it's a crucial
factor in the amount of ultraviolet
light that will or will not reach
your face. Commonly recommended is a
minimum brim size of 3-inches ... this
will protect your forehead, most of the
sides of your face, and ears. The middle
and lower part of your face will still
be exposed, so in strong direct sun,
it's a good idea to turn your face away
from the sun or stand in the shade, if
possible. Remember, reflected
UV rays can sneak up on your face
from underneath your hat, so don't
forget your sunscreen!
A brim size of 4-inches (or more) will
offer added protection to your face,
so when the UV index scale is high,
this is the better choice.
Depending on the time of day, the
sun's intensity will change. In the
middle of the day, with the sun
directly overhead, a 3-inch brim
will serve nicely and shade your
face, but, for later in the day,
a wider brim will continue to
offer considerable protection ...
the only thing is that it is nearly
impossible to wear these on windy
days unless they have a chin strap!
Sun protection is also important during
the winter months ... although it
may be cold outside, ultraviolet
rays can still be strong.
Beyond brim size, shape and color of the
material are also good considerations.
For instance, the color of the underside
of the brim can make a difference when
it comes to dispersed or reflected light.
If the underside of your hat is light in
color, harmful reflected UV rays may
bounce off onto your face ... but, if
the underside of the brim is darker
in color, it will absorb some of those rays.
Ideally, a hat that is light in color
on top, with a a darker color underneath
will also keep you cooler.
As for shape, hats that bend down and sit
closer to your face will help to offer additional
protection from both direct and reflected
Fabric is a major consideration,
especially when it comes to comfort.
Lightweight material in the summer and
a heavier, warmer material in the winter
are only a start!
Some alternatives for warmer
months are lightweight cotton, twill,
straw, raffia, hemp, breathable nylon
and crocheted cotton, to name a few.
You will also find that some fabrics
are rated for UV protection.
Since we are no longer living in the
days of once fashionable parasols,
we need to learn how to seek out
shady situations that work with our
recreation. If we go to an outdoor
luncheon, we can select a site under
a patio during peak heat, enjoying
the sun in the morning or later in
the day, or, if we're on a boat with
an indoor cabin, we can see if going
inside is an option during peak sun;
or, if doing nature study, we can
hike in the morning hours before
the sun is at peak strength and hike
back later in the day. Our interests
and activities can be quite varied,
so it's impossible to illustrate
all of the various scenarios, so,
just keep "creative sun-dodging"
in mind when you are outdoors ...
you can still enjoy your day while
minimizing sunburn risk. And, in the
evening, although you may be tired from
the day, you won't have a sunburn to
Hats offer shade and protection from
direct rays, but your skin still
requires protection from the indirect rays Ö
this, in part, is where sunscreen comes in.
There are many types available and they
are graded for potency. Be sure to
re-apply it throughout the course of
the day, especially if you have been
swimming. There are now sunscreens
available with only natural ingredients.
Also, a lip balm with a SPF of 15 can
protect your lips.
And, let's not forget our shoulders,
back, and neck, as well as any areas
which may be exposed to the sun for
long periods of time. You may
wish to take along lightweight shirts,
ponchos, or beach cover-ups ...
even if you don't wear them, you
can drape them over you. For instance,
if you are wearing shorts and you're
sitting in a chair in the sun ...
or on a boat, make sure to liberally
apply sunscreen to the tops of your
thighs and knees ... you can also
use a shirt or cover-up of some sort
to lightly cover your legs or arms
if you feel they are getting too much sun.
All in all, it's a common sense
issue, yet many of us have been
guilty of not realizing that we
are getting burned by the sun.
If we get into the habit of wearing
sun protection, we are much more
likely to enjoy our day without
destroying our skin or ending up
with a painful burn.
Here are some natural comforts you
can use to find relief from sunburn ...
Aloe Vera - Apple Cider Vinegar
Baking Soda - Calendula
Cocoa Butter - Coconut Oil
Cucumber - Epsom Salts
Lavender - Peppermint - Strawberries
Tea - Witch Hazel - Yogurt
Here are a few assorted notes on what to do with
some of those ingredients ...
Baking Soda - Dissolve in water, make a
compress using a clean cloth or apply as
a paste; or, add about a half cup to tepid
bath to soak in for awhile and allow skin
to air dry. Epsom salts may also be used
in a similar ways.
Cucumber or Strawberries - Apply slices directly to skin,
or mash and lightly rub onto affected area.
The crisp coolness of cucumber offers wonderful
relief from rashes and burns ... place slices
in refrigerator before use for an extra cool sensation.
Tea or Calendula - Such as peppermint tea; make tea, allow it
to cool, and mist onto skin; use Calendula (Pot Marigold) in similar way.
Witch Hazel - Cooling, soothing, aids in healing,
this is a plant that has been used for centuries
to aid with insect bites, rashes, and burns.
Spray it on as liberally as you like ...
you can't over-do Witch Hazel!
Yogurt - Apply and allow it to remain on
skin for about five minutes, rinse with
Winter & Cold Weather Skin Protection