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Effective Sun Protection Tips for Athletes

sun protection for athletes

Athletes are the epitome of strength and resilience. They represent vitality, health, and fortitude. While their bodies are fine-tuned and kept in pristine shape, sometimes skincare, and sun protection, in particular, can be neglected. And because athletes tend to push hard they need products (and advice) that are just as strong as they are.

With the focus being centered on the sport, it can be easy to put skin and sun care on the back burner. This could result in serious, long term damage including skin cancer.

"I didn't see myself as a candidate for this cancer," Sanders said. "Or any cancer really. ... Honestly, I don't know why. I spent every waking hour outside in my backyard pool or at my club pool swimming without sunscreen. Because to me, training didn't need sunscreen. Vacation needed sunscreen."- Summer Sanders, Olympic Swimmer/The Post Game

Today we go over the most important tips athletes should keep in mind when it comes to their sun protection and overall skincare regimen.

For Swimmers:

Swimmers face different skin protective challenges than those athletes that are based in the sun (and on dry land!). Reapplication of sunscreen is vital, as is the need for a water-resistant option like those offered by Supergoop. In addition to sun protection, swimming can dry out the skin so investing in a decent moisturizer is a good idea.

For Golfers:

Fore! Golfers spend quite a bit of time in the bright and sunshiney outdoors but since it is usually played on a golf course, many do not realize how important sun protection is when hitting those hole-in-ones. Sweatproof sunscreens are best, with reapplication recommended every two hours. If irritation is a concern, a light-weight, chemical-free formula like ZINC IT OVER is less probable to run and burn your eyes. A hat and UV sunglasses will also add some extra protection.

Tennis Players:

Tennis is a very active sport, one that will have you working up more than a little bit of a sweat. A full-spectrum sunscreen that can easily be reapplied is definitely a must. With the sun shining and the energy exertion, don’t forget to hydrate! Hydration can quite literally make or break the health of your skin. This means drinking plenty of water, as well as, hydrating your skin. Our zinc oxide sunscreen spray makes it easy to reapply while keeping your skin protected and hydrated.

*Fact: Pro tennis players, John Newcombe and Felix Mantilla had very public battles with skin cancer. 🏸⁠

Volleyball Players:

Another high-energy sport, and this time with even less protective coverage. Of course, you need to keep hydrated, as well as regular application of a waterproof, broad-spectrum sunscreen. Hats and a sun-protective top can help avoid unnecessary sun damage.

"Sun protection in athletes is especially important as multiple studies demonstrate an elevated risk of skin cancer for those who regularly participate in outdoor sports or exercise. Surprisingly, fewer than 25% of surveyed athletes reported regular use of sunscreen, so there is clearly more awareness-raising that needs to be done."- Professor Larry Kenney/Science Daily

Most Common Mistakes Athletes Make When it Comes to Their Sun Protection:

A complete absence of sunscreen: Sunscreen should always be a part of your daily skincare regimen. Even if you are only walking from your car into a gym (or any other building) you are coming into contact with harmful UV rays that could be causing damage.

Neglecting certain areas of your skin: Everyone (mostly, anyway) knows to apply sunscreen to their arms and face but what about your lips and hands? Be sure not to skip any areas. Sun protection is needed wherever there is exposed flesh.

Relying on previous sun exposure: Many athletes (and non-athletes, for that matter) believe that having a ‘base tan’ will help to prevent sunburn. This is not true and even those recently exposed are more than capable of burning.

Planning (or participating in) outdoor activities during ‘peak hours’: Between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm, the sun is at its strongest, and its rays at their most dangerous. If you are planning a hike or wanting to go on a run, typically, early morning or evening would be a safer bet.

Not wearing protective clothing: Because, unfortunately, no sunscreen is 100% effective, sun protective clothing is a great choice for added protection. A sports bra and bike shorts might keep you cool but they can also increase your risk of sun damage.

The best athletes know the importance of overall health and self-care. Your skin is a major player (pun intended) as far as overall health goes. Exposure to sun rays, especially consistent exposure, is likely to result in much more serious issues than a sunburn. Burning greatly increases your risk of skin cancer. Not to mention lines, wrinkles, and other premature aging signs. In the words of three-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, Mike Schmidt, "Respect the sun."

To learn how to perform a self-exam click here.

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