Cloudy With a Chance of Sunburns

Sun shining through the cloudsWe’ve been having a bit of a dreary spell here in Fayetteville, Arkansas. There’s been nothing but gray clouds and gloom for the past couple of weeks, and we’re beginning to forget what a sunny day looks like. And while we all know the importance of slathering on sunscreen when that big bright sun is beaming down, many of us don’t consider sun protection on a cloudy day. The truth is, you can still get sunburned when it’s overcast.

Some people assume that you can only get a sunburn if you’re in direct sunlight, but that’s not the case. While clouds block visible light, they do not block ultraviolet light. In fact, some studies suggest that clouds can even intensify ultraviolet radiation. Not only do clouds not keep you safe from the sun, but they may even increase the damage to your skin.

Those with fair skin are usually diligent about covering up whether the sun is out or not, but those who don’t burn easily might be less inclined to protect their skin, especially when the sun is hiding behind a blanket of clouds. It’s important to realize that even if you don’t burn easily, the sun can still damage your skin. UV light can lead to skin photoaging and cancer. If you want to avoid suffering those skin ravaging rays, you must be mindful of sun protection at all times.

The first step in staying safe from harmful UV light, is being aware that UV radiation is a threat on bright and sunny days as well as bleak and cloudy ones.

One way to protect yourself from UV radiation is to wear clothing with a high UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. A UPF rating is basically an indication of how well a garment can protect you from UV rays. Coverage, thread count, weave structure, fabric, and color all contribute in determining a garment’s UPF rating. Clothing with a UPF rating of 40-50+ is considered “Excellent” and can block 97.5 – 98+ percent of UV radiation.

Another way to keep your skin safe is by applying sunscreen. And remember, sunscreen isn’t just for sunny days. If you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time, put on sunscreen and reapply as necessary.

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