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Summer’s here. But before you hit the outdoors, don’t forget about sun protection. The danger is not just in the rays you can see.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a damaging energy source that comes from everyday sun exposure. While UVs are invisible, they can cause permanent damage to your immune system, skin and even your eyes. The rays permeate and can alter skin cells even through windows. That’s why many people have sun spots on the left side of their faces – from sun exposure through the car window as they drive. Exposure to ultraviolet light is the leading cause of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing at least one person every hour.

Subtropical states like Florida have much higher degrees of ultraviolet light than other areas. So how can you enjoy the sun while avoiding its damaging effects? The Center for Disease Control offers these helpful tips:

* Always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you plan on being in the sun. This gives the lotion a chance to absorb into your skin.
* UV’s are the most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skill that will not be covered by clothing. If you’re swimming or engaging in activities that make you sweat, reapply sunscreen every 15 to 30 minutes.
* Choose a sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.
* Don’t forget to cover your ears and feet.
* Use sunscreen even on cloudy days. Up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin through clouds.
* Makeup is not a sun protector. Apply sunscreen to your face before foundation or consider switching to a tinted facial sunscreen.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one out of every five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their lives, and a higher percentage of people have suffered from skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Applying sun protection religiously can help protect you from those statistics. Want another plus? Sun exposure causes wrinkles, so protection helps keep your skin looking young. And who doesn’t want that?

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