Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

All throughout summer and into the fall, the sun can be intense, and it is important to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. The ultraviolet radiation from the sun in the form of UVA and UVB is responsible for sunburns, dark spots, and skin cancer. Avoiding these rays at peak hours, when the sun is highest in the sky, by wearing sun protective clothing and sunscreens is essential to prevent sun damage and skin cancer.

But what sunscreen is the best one? There are 2 types of sunscreen; those that are organic and absorb the UV rays, and inorganic products that filter and scatter the UV rays. Organic, also known as chemical sunscreens, are commonly found in various stores containing, oxybenzone and avobenzone. Inorganic types, also known as physical sunscreens, are mineral compounds such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium. The inorganic sunscreens are less irritating to the skin and better tolerated by those with sensitive skin.

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is important to keep in mind. Sunscreen ratings of SPF 15, 30, and 50 indicate, that when they are applied sufficiently and frequently, they protect against 93%, 97% and 98% of the UV rays, respectively. An SPF 15 is only good for short outings, whereas 30 and 50 are best for all day events. An SPF higher than 50 offers no greater protection. Sunscreens are effective only if they are applied about 30 minutes before exposure to the sun and are reapplied frequently during the day. In order to be truly protected, about 1 oz is recommended for appropriate coverage.

Then there are the water resistant and spray sunscreens. Water resistant means that the sunscreen will last 40 to 80 minutes, if it is applied generously. The spray sunscreens are not as helpful because the spray scatters everywhere and 1 oz of sunscreen is never delivered to the skin. Children need to be protected at all times. A good practice would be to have sunscreen by the front door and to apply the sunscreen before going outside to play. Babies 6 months and younger should not use sunscreen unless this is cleared with the physician. Sun protective clothing for babies and children is the best way to go.

Remember that even exposure while driving can cause problems to the skin. The hands, arms, and left side of the face is often exposed when driving.

Have fun, enjoy the wonderful offerings of summer, but take cover and prevent aging and cancer.