How to Protect Yourself from the Sun

>> Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We got thinking about the whole skin protection program after we discovered that during our marathon training, we were spending at least 7 hours outdoors each week. And that doesn't include non-running time. It's easy to soak in all those rays without thinking about the consequences. After all, it feels good. And some exposure is important to absorbing vitamin D (thanks to Erin from Domestic Adventure for reminding us of that). However, too much unprotected fun can also lead to premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, cataracts, and skin cancer.

What to do? Well, we've all read the tips in magazines and heard them on the news. We also likely all say we're doing enough to protect ourselves. But, people, it's high time we all start putting the SPF 30 chapstick where our mouth is. Here are some tips and tricks submitted to us by readers, as well as a few of our own.

Cover up from Head to Toe. The sun can't get you if you're wearing clothes. So, if it's not incredibly hot, try wearing longer sleeve items. Slip into some warm weather running tights versus short-shorts. Stick on a hat (I always wear a hat while running because I used to get horribly sunburned on my scalp. It is not fun at all). But if you choose to follow this step, also choose your attire wisely. Of course, some fabric is better than none, but if your singlet is basically see-through, it certainly defeats the purpose.

You may have also heard about the new UV protective clothing. I'm no expert in this area, but I found a site with some active wear (Solartex). If anyone has tried this kind of fabric, we'd love to hear what you think about it!

Tess writes: I always wear a baseball hat or a visor when I run. I have a bunch from work but I've been thinking about getting a proper Nike Running Hat because I think it will be easier to wash. Unfortunately the hat doesn't always cover my whole face (depending the the time of day and position of the sun), but overall I think it's much better than sunscreen.

Image from Amazon

Wear Sunscreen. Yeah. It makes sense. And we all KNOW to wear sunscreen. But I will be honest. I rarely ever slather the stuff on my body (I wear some in my face moisturizer) unless I'm at the beach. Make sure you choose a kind that blocks both UVA and UVB rays (to guard against skin cancer).

Bre from The Red Bungalow writes: I HATE thick sunscreen . . . no matter how little you put on you can still...FEEL it. I started using Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Dry Touch and I think it does a really good job of not feeling like sunscreen. I also just got some of the spray kind from Costco that I'm going to try out too (I would think this would feel less icky and is really quick to apply).

Iris writes: For over-the-counter I would suggest Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+ with Helioplex. This one is super dry and soft to the touch. While it protects, it also works to reverse existing damage. A definite plus! It runs around $12. Good deal for the money.

Iris also suggests the following for those of you (like me) who are concerned with breaking out: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Products are great! They range from $20-$60 depending on the SPF level and body specific product. I personally use the 60SPF on a daily basis in the summer. For running purposes I would suggest the 60 Melt in Sunscreen Milk as it's not face-specific but can be used all over your body.

Meg agrees: That Neutrogena Dry Touch stuff is amazing! I have been using it for 2 years. It comes in a small blue and white tube/bottle and it really does feel dry and my skin never gets oily. I wear sunscreen on my face every day, and even most days in the winter. For the rest of me I use Ocean Potion for sensitive skin (pink bottle). It is non-scented! And not thick and greasy either.

And Tess suggests the following brands, if you're especially concerned with staying natural: Loving Natural, Heiko Kids, and Badger.

Protect your Peepers. You don't need to spend a mint to be protected. But during the summer, I often wear both a baseball cap AND sunglasses. Make sure whatever pair you choose -- just like with sunscreen -- blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Protecting your eyes will ensure you can continue your outdoor activities for years to come. Plus, it's much more comfortable than squinting at the sun for 20 miles!

Choose your Workout Time Wisely. Truth is, we know when it's the worst time to head outside for a long run or walk. UV rays are most intense between 10AM and 4PM. And with all that summer heat, it's usually more comfortable to be outdoors earlier or later than these times. If the sun is high in the sky, consider waiting until later in the day to get your sweat on.

Bre (The Red Bungalow) writes: Because I'm so easy to burn, my hubby always makes a point of having us try to do our outdoor activities when the sun isn't at the highest point in the day (when we go to the pool or go for a bike ride we usually go before 11am or after 2:30 or so).

Do What's Right for You (But Consider the Consequences). If you don't find a method that works, you likely won't do anything at all. Becca from FashionFlirt told us the following story that has us shaking in our running flats!
A friend of mine who is an elite marathon runner never wears sunscreen on his long runs because he finds that when he DOES wear sunscreen his ability to sweat normally is compromised. According to him, he finds that when he wears sunscreen, he struggles through his summer runs quite a bit more than he does if he doesn't bother putting on sunscreen at all.

That being said, his skin looks like leather already, and he is my age (28).

We got so many fantastic suggestions, we simply couldn't include them all this morning. So, we're planning another sun care-related post for the near future. If you would like to read all the comments shared with us, head over to the Here Comes the Sun post. And if you have some of your own tips and tricks to share -- please do! Just leave us a comment or email us at

And if you haven't already -- be sure to enter our giveaway, which ends this evening at 9PM EST.

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