There was a time when we didn't know tanning was bad for us. Back then, we would lie in the sun for hours, smothering ourselves with home made concoctions such as baby oil mixed with iodine, in an effort to increase that tan. Today, we know better - there is no such thing as a healthy tan.
Believe it or not, sunburn is the single most common backpacking injury. It's a potential problem on just about any trip, no matter where it is or how long it lasts. To choose the right sunscreen, consider how vulnerable you are:
- Skin color - Dark skin and deep tans tolerate the sun's rays more readily than fair skin. But no skin color is completely impervious to burn.
- Weather conditions - Overcast skies can decrease the amount of harmful exposure. But sunlight does penetrate the clouds, so you still need to be careful.
- Altitude - The higher up you are, the harsher the sun's rays (on skin and eyes). Reflection off of snow (or water) can add significantly to sunburn danger.
- Length of exposure - The longer you're outside, the higher your risk of burn.
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