Sun Protection Tips - How To Protect Your Skin While Gardening

Gardener Picking Vegetables From The Garden
(Image credit: Maja Coric)

As summer begins, it’s time to spend hours in the garden. This means you need to think about protecting your skin while gardening. The sun feels wonderful, especially after winter, but the damaging rays age your skin and put you at risk for cancer. Use these tips to enjoy a safer summer in the garden. 

The Importance of Gardener Sun Protection

The most important reason to pay attention to sun exposure is to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Millions of people receive a diagnosis of skin cancer every year. The good news is that this is one of the most preventable types of cancer. 

Another reason to avoid too much sun is the damage it can do to your skin’s appearance over time—of course, having a gardening sunburn is no fun either. Hours in the sun can also cause you to get overheated, even leading to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. 

Sun Protection Tips for the Garden

As you go out to work in the garden this summer, make sun protection a priority. You’ll be glad you took the time, effort, and care to stay safe. 

  • Follow the shade. Prevention is the best medicine. As much as possible, time your gardening tasks by the sun. Weed that bed when it’s in the shade of a big tree or the house. 
  • Work in the morning and evening. Another way to prevent overexposure to the sun is to avoid the peak hours of sunlight. Try working in the morning and in the evening to avoid the time of day when the sun’s rays are most intense, which is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
  • Use physical sun protection. In the heat of summer, it’s tempting to wear less clothing, but physical barriers against the sun provide excellent protection. Choose lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants that fit loosely. Wear gloves and use a wide-brimmed hat. And don’t forget your eyes. Wear sunglasses rated to block UV light.
  • Try UPF clothing. Ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) is a measurement of the effectiveness of fabrics to block damaging UV light. Look for clothing that provides UPF for the best protection. 
  • Wear sunscreen. Staying out of the worst of the sun and physically protecting skin are the best measures to stay safe, but next best is using sunscreen. For hours outside, use a product with an SPF of at least 30. 
  • Stay hydrated and take breaks. Protecting your skin is essential, but the heat of the sun can also cause problems. Drink plenty of water while outside and take breaks when you start to feel uncomfortable. Sit in the shade for a few minutes before getting back to it. 

Gardening in the summer should be fun and rewarding, not dangerous. Take sun protection seriously so you can enjoy many more summers outside.

Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.