Protect Yourself During Ultraviolet Safety Month 

sun protection


July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month, a time dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of protecting our eyes and skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. As we enjoy the sunny summer days, it's crucial to remember that sun exposure can have serious health implications. At Bastyr University Clinic, we are committed to educating our community on the best practices to stay safe in the sun. 

Choosing the Right Sunscreen 

When it comes to sunscreen, not all products are created equal. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice: 

  1. Avoid Ingredients of Concern: Look for mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide. These are generally safer for your skin and the environment. 

  1. Don't Fall for High SPF Labels: Higher SPF numbers can be misleading. Instead, focus on broad-spectrum protection, which shields you from both UVA and UVB rays. 

  1. Choose Lotions and Sticks Over Sprays: Sprays can miss spots and may contain harmful inhalable ingredients. Lotions and sticks provide better coverage and are safer options. 

  1. Use EWG's List of Top-Rated Sunscreens: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides a list of sunscreens that are effective and safe. Look for products with the EWG Verified mark. 

  1. Remember to Reapply Often: Sunscreen wears off with time, sweat, and water. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. 

Additional Sun Safety Measures 

Sunscreen is an essential part of sun protection, but it shouldn't be your only defense. Here are other ways to stay safe: 

  • For Your Eyes: Wear sunglasses that are 100% UV-absorbent for both UVA and UVB rays. Look for labels that say "UV400," which means they can block nearly 100% of harmful UV light. For added protection, consider wraparound sunglasses and pair them with a wide-brimmed hat. 

  • Cover Up: Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, hats, shorts, and pants. Specialized UV-protective clothing is also available. 

  • Find Shade: Seek out or create shade, especially during peak sun hours. Carry an umbrella or set up a sunshade if you're going to be outside for extended periods. 

  • Plan Outdoor Activities Wisely: Avoid outdoor activities during peak sunlight hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Plan your activities for early morning or late afternoon when the sun's rays are less intense. 

The Importance of UV Safety 

Long-term exposure to UV rays can lead to serious health issues, including skin cancer, cataracts, and premature aging of the skin. By taking these protective measures, you can significantly reduce your risk and enjoy the summer safely. 

At Bastyr University Clinic, we encourage you to make UV safety a priority not just in July, but all year round. Your skin and eyes will thank you! 

Stay safe and enjoy the summer responsibly. 

Want to talk to a doctor about your health and skin regimen? Make an appointment with a naturopathic doctor or care team at Bastyr University Clinic in San Diego or Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Seattle. 

Timothy Schwaiger, ND, MA, Chief Medical Director/Executive Director of Clinical Operations, Professor, Department of Naturopathic Medicine