Summer is here, and you’re probably gearing up to spend more time outside, enjoying the long days and warm sunshine. Getting outside is great for your well-being, but when you’re spending a lot of time in the sun, it’s important to take your skin health into consideration. Sun exposure can cause all kinds of skin problems, including sun spots — those pesky little patches of darkened skin that appear on your face and body after you’ve been catching too many rays. Avoiding exposure to the sun’s UV rays is the only foolproof way to ensure you won’t develop sun spots, but that’s not a practical solution for people who love summertime and the great outdoors. So what can you do to protect yourself? Here are five ways you can reduce your likelihood of developing sun spots this summer.

1. Use Sunscreen Every Day

The number one thing you can do to prevent sun spots (and more serious problems like skin cancer) is to wear a good sunscreen every single day. This is important even when it’s cloudy, because the sun’s UV rays can still damage your skin, even when you’re not in direct sunlight. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will give you the most protection. Sunscreen isn’t just for your face — if your outfit leaves your neck, arms, legs, or other body parts exposed to the sun, slather sunscreen on them too. And don’t forget to reapply every few hours, since sunscreen’s effectiveness fades as the day wears on. If you want to know the best sunscreen for you, it is best to have a dermatologist recommend you one.

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2. Cover Up to Go Outside

The more skin you expose when you go outside, the greater your likelihood of developing sun spots. Choose clothes that cover you up if you’re going to be spending a lot of time outside on a sunny day. Maxi dresses, loose-fitting linen trousers, and light jackets are good choices for staying cool, comfortable, and stylish in the summer heat. Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat will help keep the sun off your face. You can even use a parasol for extra protection.

3. Stay in the Shade

The less time you spend in direct sunlight, the less likely you are to develop sun spots, so try to stay in the shade. A hike in the woods, for example, makes a better sunny-day activity than a dip in the pool.

4. Add a Vitamin C Serum to Your Skincare Routine

Using antioxidants on your skin can have a protective effect against sun spots, so if you haven’t already added them to your skincare routine, now is a great time to give antioxidants a try. One of the most popular skincare antioxidants on the market today is vitamin C, which you can buy in serum form. Layer your vitamin C serum under your sunscreen in the morning so it can help protect you throughout the day.

5. Avoid the Midday Sun

The sun’s rays are most intense (and most damaging) between 10 AM and 4 PM. Try to limit your exposure to the sun during this part of the day, if possible. Plan to keep your activities indoors when the sun is at its highest, and if you have to go outside, be vigilant about reapplying your sunscreen and staying out of direct sunlight.

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