Going outdoors?

Protect your skin


Summer is finally here and the sun invites us all outside to play, run, hike and bike.

Sure, a nice tan is good for the ego of those of us not blessed with dark skin. But sun-browned skin ages faster and can actually turn deadly. Sun damage can lead to melanoma and other types of skin cancer.

Luckily, there's a plethora of skin protection out there from sunscreens to sexy long-sleeve gear.

For sunscreen, look for sprays or lotions that have a sun protection factor of at least 30. Apply it to nose, ears, arms, hands, legs and any other bits of skin exposed to the sun. Slather it on generously and wait a few minutes before going out in the sun. Then reapply liberally every half-hour to hour if possible.

Aside from sunscreen, there are plenty of sun protective clothes, hats and gloves to choose from. Many are made with material containing an ultraviolet protection factor, or UPF. According to REI, a UPF number rates the effectiveness of the material to protect against ultraviolet light, both UVA and UVB. Material rated between 25 and 35 is pretty good. Ratings above 50 are best. Don't bother buying material rated at less than 20 UPF.

Long-sleeve shirts or UV cooling arm sleeves come in various UPF levels. They are available in all kinds of colors. The material is made to whisk sweat away from the body and keep out the sun at the same time. Some of the arm sleeves are available in tattoo designs, in case having someone prick your arm a thousand times for that cool tat just doesn't appeal to you.

Caps and hats for covering sun-sensitive heads are available with material to cover the neck and face. Plus, in windy New Mexico, these can double for protecting against dust or to hide you from that ex you aren't ready to face yet. And, in case you've run out of scary ideas, you can also turn the full-coverage caps into a mummy mask for upcoming Halloween parties.

UV gloves are also available in a variety of colors and materials. Hands and noses are among the first body parts to show sun damage, in part because they are the most often exposed.

Another option is washing other workout or everyday clothes in Sun Guard, a product from Rit Dye that gives clothes an SPF of 30 or greater.

Don't forget sunglasses. Some shades now offer 100 percent UV protection. Look for ones that specify both UVA and UVB protection.

Finally, if possible, find a place in the shade and out of the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the ultraviolet rays are strongest. Run, ride and walk earlier if possible or wait until closer to dusk.

Whatever you do, don't shy away from fun in the sun. Just protect yourself.