by Tammy Taylor~
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Sun protection is important, y’all! Our ranch is located in Northeast Texas where heat & humidity are the daily forecast almost every day during summer months. But our work days are filled with outside chores such as working cattle or repairing fences, gardening or mowing pastures. Even though we spend many hours in the sun, I shy away from using sunblock whenever possible. Why?
Although sunblock is marketed as safe and effective, I just don’t know how I feel about slathering chemicals on my skin several times each and every day. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when it makes sense to use sunblock. But today I’m sharing seven easy ways I’m able to protect my skin from the sun’s harmful rays without resorting to sunblock.
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Stay Inside During Strongest UV Times
It’s important to remember that the sun is at its most intense level and UV is at its strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If at all possible, avoid outside activities when the UV is at its strongest. A quick tip I learned: the shorter your shadow beneath you, the stronger the UV rays can be. So it’s best to be outside when your shadow on the ground is longer. If your shadow is short – go inside for a while!
Take The Shade With You
Wouldn’t it be nice if all my tasks could be done under the cooling air of a shade tree? But that’s not the way we roll here on the Homestead! I can’t accomplish the many chores I have while if I stayed under a nice cool shade tree. Thankfully I found a way to take that shade with me while I work! We purchased a rigid canopy that attaches to our tractor’s ROPS. There are similar rigid shades for riding lawnmowers. So if you must work outside – take the shade with you!
Cover Your Arms and Legs
It didn’t make sense to me at first, but covering your skin can actually keep you cooler. Even though the summer months are hot and humid here, we wear a lightweight long-sleeve shirt. These help keep us cool by keeping the hot sun from heating our skin.
Here’s another thing I learned: The darker the material and the tighter the weave, the more protection from the sun is received. It’s said the more light you can see through the fabric, the less sun protection you receive. Now for us it’s a balance between protection from the sun and protection from the heat (which can also be a danger in Texas).
Don’t Forget Your Face!
A wide-brimmed hat that shades your face and ears (and ideally the back of your neck as well) is a smart move when you are in the garden or mowing the yard. I have a lightweight straw hat that’s my favorite for quick garden chores and such. But keep in mind, just like the tighter-weave rule for clothing, the tighter the weave in the hat’s fabric, the more sun protection you receive. If you’ll be out in the sun for a longer duration of time, a wide-brimmed hat made of a tighter-weave fabric might be a better option.
Work Gloves Serve Double Duty
I typically wear gloves when doing chores. Different kinds of gloves serve the purpose for different tasks. For instance if we’re repairing fences I’ll typically wear heavy leather gloves. But most of the time I like to wear lighter-weight garden gloves. They’re flexible enough to work in the garden or drive the tractor while still protecting my hands & my skin and the sun. My favorite gloves are these * Touchscreen Gloves for working in the garden. They have special fingertips to allow me to operate my smart phone without removing the gloves. That’s helpful for answering an incoming call or just activating my music while I work.
Protection For Your Eyes
According to the American Cancer Society, the sun can be harmful to your eyes as well. My eyes have always been pretty sensitive to strong light, so I typically wear sunglasses anyway. But I’m doubly sure to wear them now.
I always opt for wrap-around sunglasses that offer UV protection. I’ve found ‘fishing’ gear often has the best UV protection. Luckily I found some *lightweight sunglasses in the fishing department of a local discount store that had all the features I was looking for. And as a bonus they were inexpensive too!
Advancements in Protective Clothing
There have been some amazing advancements in protective clothing over the years. A lightweight long-sleeved shirt that protects your skin while still keeping you cool? YES PLEASE!
These are primarily touted as a *fishing shirt but that makes sense. I mean, fishermen spend much time out on the water under that sun. The one I bought was made of an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) 30 material. It was made in a way that allows the body’s heat to escape. I’m a big fan of covering the skin while still staying cooler!
And of course sunblock is the last option in my sun-protection arsenal. It has its place and I’ll certainly use it when I must. But I much prefer to use the options above first.
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