The Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn lay on either side of the equator. There, you'll find hot temperatures and lots of direct sunlight. In these parts of the world, it's easy to get a sunburn. Although the initial painful effects of a sunburn usually dissipate within a week, it can have lasting side effects. So before you head out on your next tropical vacation, read on to learn about how to protect your skin.
Before you can take measures against sunburn, it's important to learn about what it actually is and why it's so harmful. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a suntan happens when sunlight touches a person's skin and causes your body to produce more melanin, a substance that protects your skin from ultraviolet light. Any time this occurs, your skin is actually getting damaged. Even if you don't normally burn, damage is still occurring. Overexposure to the sun could lead to premature wrinkles, new formations of freckles and even skin cancer.
Tips for avoiding sunburn and skin damage
Don't let a painful sunburn ruin your vacation! Follow these easy tips to stay safe so you can relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
- Check the UV Index: According to the U.S. Environmental Health and Protection Agency, the UV index is an internationally recognized scale used to measure the intensity of the sun. It typically gives recommendations for which precautions you should take when going outside. Say you scored some cheap tickets to Hawaii, which is in the Tropic of Cancer, and you want to visit the beach. Check the UV index online before leaving your hotel room! It's above a three, you should take precaution to protect yourself.
- Find shade: The best way to protect yourself from the sun is to avoid it altogether, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Stay inside or find some shade where you are. Most beaches that cater to tourists will have parasols available for rent. For instance, if you're vacationing on a beach in Thailand, you can rent a large parasol and a beach chair for under ten dollars.
- Remember your hat and sunglasses: Your exposed skin isn't the only part of your body that you have to worry about it. Remember to protect the top of your head as well as your eyes. The sun's rays can penetrate through your hair to your scalp and cause a rather painful burn otherwise. And UV rays can damage your eyes just as much as your skin.
- Know your sunscreen: Not all sunscreens are created equally. To find out which brands are the best, check out the EWG's brand guide. In general, you'll want a sunscreen that has between 30 to 50 SPF. Anything higher is technically better, but in reality provides only slightly more resilience. Remember to follow the directions on the sunscreen bottle.