Many of us take shade for granted. While fall is here and the sun may not be as hot as it was at the height of summer for many of us throughout the United States, UV rays remain a threat to our skin’s health and the risk of developing skin cancer from UVB rays, the segment of ultraviolet light more harmful to our skin.
The Power of Shade
Shade is powerful. Shade enables our bodies to cool naturally. Seeking shade can cause welcome relief between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm when the sun is at its strongest. While the relief of shade may not feel quite as dramatic now that it is fall, shade remains an important protector of our skin throughout the year.
Shade comes in many forms:
The most effective tree shade is trees with large leaves. These tend to be older trees that have grown to provide a beautiful source of cover. Unfortunately, trees take a long time to grow
and some areas of the country, including urban areas, have less natural shade to enjoy as a respite from the heat and the sun’s rays.
- Umbrellas and other portable shade solutions
Umbrellas and canopies may provide shade, but it is important to realize that not all shade is as effective in blocking UV rays. If the portable shade you are using is made of material that blocks harmful UVB rays, then you are protecting your skin. If not, the shade source is not providing the recommended protection to avoid harm to your skin and your eyes.Product information for useful fabrics that protect the skin will include an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). The UPF indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin. For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and allows two percent (1/50th) to penetrate, thus reducing your exposure risk significantly.
Seek shade, when possible, to protect your skin, but it is important to know that while shade is powerful, so is the sun’s reflection.
The Power of Reflection
Damaging UVB rays can reach your skin by bouncing off UV-reflective surfaces that include water, snow, sand and even concrete.
Did you know?
- Snow – reflects 50-80% of UV radiation
- Sea foam – reflects 25-30% of UV radiation
- White house paint – reflects up to 22% of UV radiation
- Dry sand beach – reflects 15-18% of UV radiation
- Concrete – reflects 8-12% of UV radiationSource: UV Daily
These reflection numbers support why it is so hard to see during a bright sunny day near the water or outside after fresh snow has fallen. Any exposed skin is at risk due to the power of the reflected UVB rays.
So how do you protect your skin from harmful UVB rays?
Seeking shade is a wise choice. But reflecting UVB rays may still reach you. So, what else could you do?
The Power of Shade + SPF
Sunscreen is a proven solution and powerful in combination with seeking shade. Sunscreen should be worn all year round. Protect your skin all year round by using sun protection that has the words ‘broad spectrum’ on its label – this means the product has ingredients that protect you from UVA rays and UVB rays that cause sunburns and skin cancer.
Shade, Sunscreen + Clothing
We mentioned fabrics for portable shade solutions that are UPF rated. We also suggest you consider clothing that protects you from harmful rays. Hats, long-sleeve shirts and gloves offer a great way to protect skin that is highly susceptible to being at risk for skin cancer; especially the back and top of head for men.
At IMPACT Melanoma, we are committed to prevention education and programs that reduce the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Take care of your body’s largest organ, your skin, throughout the year.
To protect you from harmful UVB rays, catch shade, use sunscreen all year round and wear protective clothing.
Contact us to discuss how your company or organization can join us as a partner in prevention.