If you're like, ehem, many people we know, you've spent the bulk of your summer glued to your desk chair. And while you may wish you had more time to bask in the warm weather and acquire a sun-kissed glow, you suck it up. After all, every moment in the office means one less in the sun's harmful UV rays. Right?
Turns out, not quite. In fact, new research suggests that your skin could be endangered indoorsÃ¢â‚¬“especially if energy-efficient compact-fluorescent (CFL) bulbs light your office. According to a new study from State University of New York, Stony Brook, these bulbs could expose skin to damaging sun-like radiation, thus adding to the world's skin-cancer woes. (And P.S.: They're not so great for your eyes, either. Here's how to save your peepers.)
To find out which bulbs are suspect and get the full scientific scoop, check out Rodale.com. And in the meantime, take the precautions from the study's lead author Miriam Rafailovich, PhD, professor in the department of material science and engineering, who says that slathering on sunscreen at the office isn't necessary. Instead, here's how to protect your skin:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Keep your desk lamps at arm's length. "You shouldn't sit closer than a foot to these bulbs," says Rafailovich. The UV rays don't spread much farther than that. That distance helps if you're using CFLs in an overhead light fixture, which is far enough away to keep them from doing much damage.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢Ã‚Â Invest in some glass shades. Glass shades prevent UV rays from penetrating much better than plastic or cloth lampshades, she adds.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Go au naturel. Avoid the whole light bulb issue entirely by letting in as much natural light as possible. At home, you can hang mirrors to reflect light, brighten spaces by applying a fresh coat of soft white paint, and pull more outdoor light into your rooms by opening blinds. Throw open the shades at your office, too. Many office windows have something called a low-e coating, which helps buildings save energy and has the added benefit of blocking most of the UV radiation from sunlight.
photo: Hemera/Thinkstock More from WH:
What's Your Skin Cancer Risk?
Sunscreen Questions Answered
18 Self Checks Every Woman Should Do
Look Better Naked: Buy the book to learn how to look (and feel!) your very best.