It’s hot out there and the sun is shining bright most days in our beautiful Lowcountry. That means it’s time to notch up your skin protection program.

As you spend more time outside soaking up that Vitamin D sunshine, it’s important to remember that most skin cancers are directly related to sun radiation and many signs of aging are caused by daily sun exposure. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays are still penetrating those clouds to damage your skin.

A daily sun and skin care regimen can help reduce your risks and reduce signs of aging. According to Merry Opperman, lead esthetician at Whisper Creek Spa, “It’s estimated that 90% of skin aging is due to effects of ultraviolet rays from the sun. Breaking down collagen and elastin, it leaves the skin thinning and wrinkling. Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Avoid sun midday by wearing a hat and light long sleeves that also cover your décolleté. And don’t forget your vitamin C serum!”

A good sunscreen regimen is the starting point to protecting your skin. There are many great products. If you follow a regimen using Jan Marini and Eminence, these systems incorporate an SPF-based product. SuperGoop is a line of products that don’t smell like the old school sunscreen products and absorb better into the skin.

To avoid baking in the sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sit under an umbrella or find some shade while enjoying the outdoors. We all love the great look of a bronzed tan, but consider the safer alternative of a spray tan or self-tanners for the look you love without the risks.

Also, keep in mind the environmental impact of sunscreen. Whether you are in a pool or in our beautiful oceans, putting on sunscreen right before diving in might make sense to you, but is really not good for the water or water creatures. Sunscreen can affect the chemistry of your pool, particularly if a lot of people are jumping in and out and then applying more sunscreen – that’s what creates the cloudy look and can damage the pool systems.

Our oceans are also suffering. There is a growing body of research that show that when millions of people lather themselves in sunscreen and enter the ocean, they are harming the ocean’s ecosystem. Consider wearing a lightweight shirt with sun protection instead of loading up on sunscreen.

Sometimes even with the best of intentions, we miss a spot – the tops of your ears, a stray streak on your arms or missing pieces of your back you can’t quite reach. When that happens, stay out of the sun until your skin can heal. Consider a sunburn treatment including home remedies such as a cool bath with baking soda, moisturizing soothers, drinking lots of water – or consider a post-sunburn spa treatment.

Jennifer C. Wolfe is the co-owner of Whisper Creek Day Spa in Bluffton, which she opened with her husband last year. or