Spotlight on sun safety
Make your own shade at home @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Build your own shade
Adding a retractable awning or canopy to the side of your house is also an easy way to add shade. This allows you to adjust the protection you want depending on the sun’s location. The colour and thickness of the awning material is important to consider. Thick, tightly woven material in dark colours provides the most effective protection. Awnings can be used year-round, but many are easily removed and stored away during the winter.
Installing a porch roof or backyard patio roof offers more permanent sun protection. Remember to check the sun’s path around your home before building it to make sure the structure will provide effective shade coverage.
Plant your own shade
Planting deciduous trees like maple, birch, oak and beech that are native to Canada will provide excellent sun protection during the summer months. Be sure to select types of trees that provide large thick coverings of leaves that will block UV rays. For year-round protection, consider planting coniferous trees like hemlock, pine, spruce and cedar. But remember, these types of trees do not have natural canopies that provide midday shade, like deciduous trees do.
Think about how you use your space to decide which types of trees will grow best and provide you with the shade you need. When planting trees, think about:
- the way the sun moves around your home – remember UV rays are strongest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- the time you spend on the deck or patio
- the location of the swimming pool, sandbox or play area
Sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory – they protect your eyes from damage by blocking UV rays. This is important for kids too! Look for the kind that have both UVA and UVB protection. The label might say UV 400 or 100% UV protection.
Look for clothing that’s specially made to protect you from UV rays. The label shows the UV protection factor (UPF). UPF measures a fabric’s ability to block UV rays from passing through and reaching the skin. The fabrics are classified into categories based on their UPF.
Like a sunscreen’s SPF, the higher the UPF, the less UV radiation reaches the skin and the better the protection. The fabrics used for this clothing are often lightweight, and some may be treated with ingredients to help them block UV rays. Look for UPF 15 or higher. UPF 50+ blocks most UV rays.
Use an SPF of 30 or higher
Look for broad spectrum and water-resistant on the label
Apply a generous amount
Use sunscreen on any skin that clothing doesn't cover
Put sunscreen on first, before any makeup or insect repellent
Don't spray aerosol or pump sunscreen products directly onto your face
If you forget to put it on before going outside, it's not too late
Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours
Use a lip balm with SPF and reapply when needed
Apply sunscreen on cloudy days and during the winter months
Try different sunscreens until you find the one you like
Take care with products that combine sunscreen with makeup or moisturizer
Check the expiry date
The research on oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and parabens does not show that they cause cancer. None of these chemicals has been classified as a cancer-causing substance by any major scientific organization. The Canadian Cancer Society has studied the current research, and we believe that oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and parabens in sunscreen do not pose a cancer risk.
We are committed to sharing important information about cancer risk to Canadians and continue to closely monitor research in this area. We also track recommendations for sunscreen use by other regulatory agencies that protect your health and the environment. The Canadian Cancer Society supports the use of any sunscreen products that are approved for sale in Canada.
What about studies that suggest people who use sunscreen have a higher risk of developing skin cancer? @(Model.HeadingTag)>
Scientists don’t think this increased risk is caused by any chemical – it comes from the fact that people who use sunscreen spend more time in the sun than people who don’t use sunscreen. And many of these people may not be applying sunscreen properly. Scientists are also looking at whether people who use sunscreen have lower vitamin D levels, which may increase the risk of developing cancer.
Being safe in the sun is still the best way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Protect yourself when the sun is at its strongest, cover your skin with clothing, wear a hat and sunglasses and use a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.
If I stay out of the sun, how do I get enough vitamin D?
Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and muscles, especially in children and the elderly. Your skin produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight.
The amount of sun exposure needed to produce enough vitamin D depends on:
- skin colour
- where you live
- how strong the sun is
For most people, just a few minutes out in the sun – the short, casual exposure you get while going about daily life – will be enough. You don’t need to intentionally expose yourself to the sun or visit tanning beds to get adequate vitamin D.