The sun is a big evil killing machine. Even though it has served to fuel our planet and universe for an infinite time, it is still a vicious murderer that seeks to make your skin appear like an old biker’s leather coat. And it wants to murder you.

Ok, relax. Yes, the sun can be damaging to your skin. Yes, skin cancer is on the rise. You need to be aware of these things. But it is important to note that a little common sense can go long ways in neutralizing any dire effects that might be caused via the sun. I mean, look at the girl in our feature picture, she doesn’t look like she’s dying from the sun! Just kidding. The sun can murder you even when you do look amazing.

Protecting yourself from the sun while still participating in summer fun (or working outside, if that’s your job) is completely possible.

I believe in five different common sense approaches to sun protection. If you can understand these five common-sense sun protection approaches, you should improve your chances of not experiencing the sun’s bad effects.

Avoid the sun between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm

The sun has some pretty powerful “blaze” times, as I will term it. And these are the times that the sun can do the most damage. If you can avoid the sun between these hours, you will help keep your skin safe. If you must be outside, make sure you either limit your time outside or you cover up.

Cover your body up

Remember when you were little and you saw the older person wearing long sleeves and jeans on a hot summer day and you thought, “oh what a weirdo!” Well, the older you get, the wiser you get. Covering your body is a great protector from the sun. You can now even find clothes built specifically for summer fun and sun protection. Surf athletic brands, such as O’Neil and Quicksilver, make rash guards that are rated for blocking the sun. These rash guards were initially built to protect surfers from getting rashes from grinding on their waxed up boards, but now they are most often used to protect from the sun and “quick dry” after being wet. And they look cool. They even make them for babies!

Gotta wear shades

Your eyes are important. And they can also be damaged by the sun’s harsh rays. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that have UV protection rating. You can also find glasses that wrap around every part of the eye for ultimate protection.

Base tans aren’t protection

People often believe the myth that getting a base tan will protect them from sun damage, but this isn’t true and often it leads to more dangerous and damaging behaviors. Case and point: people will start visiting tanning beds in the spring thinking they are getting a “base tan.” But in reality, they are just exposing themselves to dangerous chemical rays. Tanning beds are gross, folks, for a lot of reasons. Avoid these tanning beds at all cost no matter how tempting they might be.

Sunscreen (what about it?)

When it comes to sun protection, there is no more a controversial subject than whether or not to apply sunscreen. Covering your skin and avoiding the sun’s high times are the best move, but for some people, those aren’t great options and they opt to wear sunscreen. Many sunscreens have been proven to not offer the protection they advertise, which has led to people to falsely believe they are super protected. But instead, they roast in the sun for lengthy periods of time. Wearing sunscreen should not be a substitute for covering up during high times. Also, opt for more natural sunscreens which contain zinc oxide rather than dangerous chemicals.

Here’s a good list to go by in terms of sunscreen chemicals to avoid:

• Para amino benzoic acid
• Octyl salicyclate
• Oxybenzone
• Cinoxate
• Dioxybenzone
• Phenylbenzimidazole
• Homosalate
• Menthyl anthranilate
• Octocrylene
• Methoxycinnamate
• Parabens

Conclusion: Summer is here, so let’s not turn it into a big fat depressing thing. Summer is fun. The sun is great. So long as common sense is applied, you should have no reason to fear the sun or any summer activities. Your skin will look healthy and youthful for a lot longer if you make wiser decisions.