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Sun's out, guns out: 5 ways to protect your skin this summer

Getty Images / Special to The Forum1 / 4
Sitting under the shade of an umbrella or leafy tree can protect you from the sun, but it also makes the perfect spot to read that steamy new novel. Getty Images / Special to The Forum2 / 4
As functional as they are fashionable, sunglasses keep the sun's harmful rays away from those baby blues and protect against cataracts and skin cancer on the eyelids. Emma Vatnsdal / The Forum3 / 4
Sunscreen contains chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays. Experts recommend reapplying the gloopy white mess every two hours to ensure maximum protection. Getty Images / Special to The Forum4 / 4

FARGO — Hello everyone! Today's Friday 5 is brought to you by the giant "I told you so" that I have been hearing over and over in my head since early Monday morning. (It has taken the tone of my Nana Peggy's voice, which concerns me a little, but that's a topic for another day.)

With beautiful weather comes long days spent on the lake with nothing but a swimsuit to guard your pasty, white, winter skin against the harmful rays of the increasingly strong sun

Whoa. That sounds oddly specific. Wanna know why? Because ya girl is burnt.

We are talking extra crispy, like my favorite chicken strips. That sun is HOT and I am a sucker for that sweet, sweet Vitamin D.

(Cue Katrina & The Waves.)

I know, I know. I should have worn sunscreen. It was literally sitting next to me on the pontoon and the lovely Mary urged me to use it. She even told me to pop on a hat.

But, clearly, I don't listen. I needed to reaffirm my place as a bronzed goddess, and now I am paying the price.

I'll probably end up looking like a leather handbag one day. (Like a Louis Vuitton leather handbag though. I ain't no cheap knock-off!)

While becoming the embodiment of a Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM bag may work for me (I do like my food, you know), leathery skin doesn't look good on everyone. With sunshine, good days and lakes, parks and pools in the foreseeable future, here are five ways to protect that epidermis to avoid that nasty snakeskin look by the time the sun goes down for another few months this winter.

Throwin' some shade

As wonderful as that hot, hot sun is, nothing feels quite as good as sneaking off into the shade of a tree or umbrella.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you can reduce your risk of skin damage by seeking shade under an umbrella, tree or other shelter before you need relief from the sun.

Enjoy the warmth we so rarely get and don't be afraid to lounge about under that big tree in the backyard. It makes the perfect little reading spot.

Cover it up

Much to the dismay of tan-loving folks like me, keeping your skin covered is one of the best ways to avoid the harsh burn of that glorious fiery star in the sky.

Long-sleeved shirts and long skirts or pants with tightly woven fabric offer the best protection against harmful UV rays. Wet and light-colored clothing offers far less protection than dry and dark-colored clothing.

Sometimes, wearing sleeves and dark clothing isn't an option or isn't practical. The CDC says even a cover-up or T-shirt can go a long way in protecting us against skin cancer.

Get shady

Sunnies, shades, hater-blockers, sunglasses. Keeping your eyes covered when out in the bright sun is essential to keeping those peepers extra healthy. As G'ma Eldri always says, "your eyes are so important."

Thankfully, this type of sun protection can be hella fashionable for hella cheap. Most sunglasses in America, regardless of cost, now block both UVA and UVB rays, making sure those baby blues keep working at their peak condition.

Slather it on

Ahhh, the big one. Sunscreen. Bet you're surprised I didn't start with that one, eh?

Well, it's because I hate sunscreen. It's sticky, it's gloppy and it's gross.

However, it's also one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer.

By slathering on the goopy white mess, you are protecting against both UVA and UVB rays — rays that severely damage the skin and can reduce skin elasticity and contribute to skin cancers.

Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor, or SPF, number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. The higher the number, the better the protection.

Sunscreen doesn't last forever, though. Experts recommend reapplying that goop if you stay in the sun for more than two hours, as well as after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Cool off

Ultimately, the best way to avoid the sun's harmful rays is to stay indoors during peak sunlight times (generally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.). During those times, the sun's UV rays are the strongest and can lead to some nasty burns.

Listen, I get it. Sun is the northerly folk's best friend. However, skin cancer is not.

Keep it covered, and slather it on, boys and girls. Summer is here.

Friday 5 is a weekly column featuring musings, quick tips, tricks, ideas and more — all in bunches of five. Readers can reach reporter Emma Vatnsdal at 701-241-5517.