We all know how important it is to wear sunscreen daily — it's the best way to prevent skin cancer and premature aging — but for those that want to go above and beyond in their skincare, there are tons of unique ways to prevent sun damage. Options range from simply wearing clothes with UV protection to donning wearable tech that monitors your exposure to UV rays throughout the day, because the future is now. So grab your sun hat, and let's take a tour of the best and weirdest in sun damage prevention.
You'd think that it would be obvious when you're in danger of receiving too much UV exposure (the beach, perhaps?), but it turns out that the brunt of skin damage can occur when you least expect it. Many people only use sunscreen during intense sun exposure and stop using it altogether during winter months, but a little shade or snow doesn't mean the sun isn't slowly cooking your skin to a crisp. Snow and sand act as reflectors, bouncing the sun's UV rays everywhere, even under your umbrella. That's why dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen 365 days a year.
Going the extra mile never hurt anybody, and sun protection is no exception. You've only got one skin, after all. Let's take a look at some unique ways you can power up your sunscreen routine.
1. My UV Patch
La Roche-Pousay, a subdivision of parent company L'Oreal, is seeking to help identify when we're most at risk with the upcoming release of My UV Patch, a wearable sticker that monitors UV exposure. With the help of a corresponding app, the device will allow users to track how much UV exposure they've incurred. Add to that the fact that the app will offer recommendations for safer sun practices, and My UV Patch is set to change the way we approach sun exposure. Keep an eye out for it on shelves this summer.
2. Beiber Bangs
This is validation for those of us with Zooey Deschanel bangs. Justin Beiber's floppy fringe was actually doing the singer (and all the teenage boys who emulated him) some good. In a 2014 report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, dermatologists found that boys who wore their hair across their forehead developed fewer freckles in that area, which means less damage and a lower risk of skin cancer. Long live the floppy bang.
3. UVA Protective Car Windows
Nothing drives home the effect that cumulative sun exposure has on the skin like the images of Bill McElligott, the veteran truck driver with severe sun damage on the left side of his face. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, windshields are formulated to block UVA and UVB rays, but rear and side windows aren't held to the same standards. The solution? Tinting or laminating windows with UV protective film. The legality of window tinting varies between states, so check your local laws before you tint.
4. UPF Clothing
Once the domain of the ultra-fit, UPF clothing is now sold by major retailers such as Gap and Athleta. According to Shape, UPF's protection factor ranges from 15 to 50+, and dark clothes with a tighter weave will offer more protection. Keep in mind that the UPF factor drops 50 percent if a garment gets wet.
5. UV Reflective Umbrella
Sand reflects 17 percent of the sun's rays right back at you, so an umbrella is no substitute for a good old-fashioned slathering of sunblock. But they certainly don't hurt: an umbrella with high SPF provides a layer of protection on top of your sun lotion.
6. Hand Sunscreen
Applying sunscreen to your face and neck seems like a no-brainer, but we often neglect our hands. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a hand lotion with an SPF 15+ to moisturize and protect your mitts.
7. UV Laundry Detergent
This product promises to "transform everyday clothing into sun-protection gear with a UPF of 30" which makes it perfect for washing your workout clothes. But, as The New York Times points out, these claims haven't yet been tested by the FDA, so it's best to use it in addition to proven sun protection methods for now.
8. Scalp Sunscreen
Although that slimy film that sunscreen leaves on the skin is a sign that it's working, the thought of smearing lotion on your scalp isn't an appealing one. The solution is to wear a hat or pick up a sunscreen formulated for on-scalp application.
Images: Getty Images (2); Courtesy Brands