Some Say That The Most Dangerous Thing in Cabo Is The Sun!
You don’t have to avoid the sun completely when you are in Cabo and you don’t come on vacation to stay inside. But everyone knows now that too much sunlight can be harmful and the sun in Los Cabos is particularly strong and high in damaging UV rays. There are some steps endorsed by the American Cancer Society that you can take to limit your exposure to these powerful UV rays.
Simply staying in the shade is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure. If you are going to be in the sun, “Slip! Slop! Slap!® and Wrap” is a catch phrase that can help you remember some of the key steps you can take to protect yourself from UV rays:
• Slip on a shirt.
• Slop on sunscreen.
• Slap on a hat.
• Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.
An obvious but very important way to limit your exposure to UV light is to avoid being in direct sunlight for too long. This is particularly important between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, when UV light is strongest, particularly at the beach.
UV rays can also reach below the water’s surface, so you can still get a burn even if you’re in the water and feeling cool.
On Medano in particular there are numerous bars offering shades so there are plenty of options for both keeping cool and having a great lunch!
Protect your skin with clothing
When you are out in the sun, wear clothing to protect as much skin as possible. Clothes provide different levels of UV protection. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts cover the most skin and are the most protective. Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors.
A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing. Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric.
Be aware that covering up doesn’t block out all UV rays. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too.
So after you have had enough of sunbathing, cover up with some appropriate clothing.
You put sunscreen on your skin to protect it from the sun’s UV rays. But it’s important to know that sunscreen is just a filter – it does not block all UV rays. Sunscreen should not be used as a way to prolong your time in the sun. Even with proper sunscreen use, some rays get through, which is why using other forms of sun protection is also important.
Sunscreens are available in many forms – lotions, creams, ointments, gels, sprays, wipes, and lip balms, to name a few.
Some cosmetics, such as moisturizers, lipsticks, and foundations, are considered sunscreen products if they contain sunscreen. Some makeup contains sunscreen, but you have to check the label – makeup, including lipstick, without sunscreen does not provide sun protection.
Sun protection factor (SPF): The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection (although it says nothing about UVA protection). For example, when applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, 1 hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending 2 minutes totally unprotected. People often do not apply enough sunscreen, so the actual protection they get is less.
Sunscreens labeled with SPFs as high as 100+ are available. Higher numbers do mean more protection, but many people do not understand the SPF scale. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. The higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. No sunscreen protects you completely.
When choosing a sunscreen product, be sure to read the label. Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are strongly recommended for adults and SPF 60 for children. Waterproof products are preferable.
Sunscreens with an SPF lower than 15 must now include a warning stating that the product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.
Be sure to apply the sunscreen properly
Always follow the label directions. Most recommend applying sunscreen generously. When putting it on, pay close attention to your face, ears, neck, arms, and any other areas not covered by clothing. If you’re going to wear insect repellent or makeup, put the sunscreen on first.
Ideally, about 1 ounce of sunscreen (about a shot glass or palmful) should be used to cover the arms, legs, neck, and face of the average adult. Sunscreens need to be reapplied at least every 2 hours to maintain protection. Sunscreens can wash off when you sweat or swim and then wipe off with a towel, so they might need to be reapplied more often – be sure to read the label. And don’t forget your lips; lip balm with sunscreen is also available.
Some sunscreen products can irritate your skin. Many products claim to be hypoallergenic or dermatologist tested, but the only way to know for sure if a product will irritate your skin is to try it. One common recommendation is to apply a small amount to the soft skin on the inside of your elbow every day for 3 days. If your skin does not turn red or become itchy, the product is probably OK for you.
Wear a hat
A hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around is ideal because it protects areas that are often exposed to intense sun, such as the ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp. A dark, non-reflective underside to the brim can also help lower the amount of UV rays reaching the face from reflective surfaces such as water. A shade cap (which looks like a baseball cap with about 7 inches of fabric draping down the sides and back) also is good, and will provide more protection for the neck.
These are often sold in sports and outdoor supply stores. If you don’t have a shade cap (or another good hat) available, you can make one by wearing a large handkerchief or bandana under a baseball cap.
A baseball cap protects the front and top of the head but not the neck or the ears, where skin cancers commonly develop. Straw hats are not as protective as hats made of tightly woven fabric.
Wear sunglasses that block UV rays
UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves. Research has shown that long hours in the sun without protecting your eyes increase your chances of developing certain eye diseases.
The ideal sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Before you buy, check the label to make sure they do. Labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” mean the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays. Those labeled “cosmetic” block about 70% of UV rays. If there is no label, don’t assume the sunglasses provide any UV protection.
Large-framed and wraparound sunglasses are more likely to protect your eyes from light coming in from different angles. Children need smaller versions of real, protective adult sunglasses – not toy sunglasses.
Protect children from the sun
Children need special attention – they tend to burn more easily, and may not be aware of the dangers. Parents and other caregivers should protect children from excess sun exposure by using the steps above. It’s important, particularly in Los Cabos, to cover your children as fully as is reasonable. Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight and protected from the sun using hats and protective clothing. Sunscreen may be used on small areas of exposed skin only if adequate clothing and shade are not available.
Nothing can ruin a holiday more than a child with sunburn: take care and have fun!