Summer means sun, and sun means potential damage to your skin. From sunburn to sunspots to wrinkles, those who spend too much time under ultraviolet rays are likely to see their skin showing evidence of wear and tear, and the careless sunbather may even come out of the summer looking older than they did going into it. 

In fact, not all sun damage to your skin is visible. Between signs of aging and more serious damage to deeper layers of skin, it's more important than ever to spend the waning days of summer protecting your skin from harmful rays. 

Staying shady
One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your skin free from the bombardment of harmful UV rays is simply to stay out of them. Especially for older individuals, limiting time spent in direct sunlight is an important part of keeping skin healthy. The AARP recommended that seniors limit their time in the sun to less than 15 minutes a day, specifically during peak hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is the time during which the sun's rays are at their strongest.

Slather on the sunscreen
If staying indoors and out of the sun is too much for you to deal with in the throes of summer, you should at least take steps to ensure that you're keeping yourself protected as you venture out into the UV rays. Sunscreen is an essential part of any outdoor toolkit. The important component to keep in mind is the sun protection factor. As AskMen explained, a sunscreen's SPF is a number indicating how long you can stay in the sun safely. You'd be hard-pressed to find an SPF lower than 15, which represents the basic level of protection, offering around 150 minutes of sun coverage. Most experts recommend at least an SPF-30 sunscreen, and older individuals or those with fairer skin may want to go even higher. 

Some of the more common mistakes people make when it comes to sunscreen are not applying evenly and not applying often enough. You may think you're all set once you baste your chest, back and arms with SPF, but if so, you're likely to wake up to find painful burns behind your ears or on the bridge of your nose. All exposed surfaces, not just the large ones, need to be covered. After all, the sun doesn't discriminate. Similarly, keep track of how often you slather up and reapply accordingly. AskMen recommended applying the first coat 30 minutes before heading out, and then every two hours afterward. This of course needs to be more frequent if you're swimming.

Cover up
Summer may be the time for bathing suits and shorts, but if you're going to be spending time in the sun, it's important to cover up. It may seem counterintuitive, but exposed skin is at risk of sunburn or further damage from UV rays. And just because you're wearing a T-shirt doesn't mean you're protected – according to AskMen, a standard cotton T-shirt provides less sun protection than an SPF-15 sunscreen. 

Skin-saving foods
Not all your sun protection has to happen while you're soaking up rays. There are foods you can eat that provide your body with nutrients that protect your skin from UV damage. The AARP suggested red and orange fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, as they contain antioxidants that can help your skin repair damage more quickly and keep you looking younger. Another skin-friendly, summertime picnic fixture you can happily indulge in is red wine. The antioxidants in this favorite beverage promote anti-aging cells in your skin, and can stimulate the production of vital collagen. 

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