Sunscreen: From the Basics and Beyond

There’s much more to skin protection from the sun than just opening up a bottle of sunscreen and slathering the lotion on your skin. When you think about how much is enough, when the protection factor will become ineffective or what age to use it on, the task seems much more daunting. Experts suggest using sunscreen year round for ultimate protection.

Finding the Right SPF

SPF or sun protection factor can mean the difference between enjoying a day in the sun or receiving a radiation burn and feeling the pain of the fun you had for days after. Choosing the correct SPF for your skin type is critical in skin protection.

All skin types can use a sun protection factor. Everyone receives UVA rays when enjoying outdoor activities and that even means when riding around in a vehicle. Using an SPF will lengthen the amount of time that you may enjoy the outdoors without receiving a sunburn.

Broad Spectrum Protection

There are two types of harmful sun rays out there. UVA rays can cause aging effects as well as skin cancer. UVB rays are the cause of sunburns as well as skin cancer. Choose a sunscreen that says it is for “UVA/UVB” or “Broad Spectrum” protection.

Sunscreen for Everyone

According to bk8 casino review website, it is recommended to keep children under the age of six months out of the sunlight. If that is not possible, the academy states that guardians may safely put a small amount of sunscreen that is made for children and is waterproof to protect their exposed skin.

The elderly also will benefit from the use of sunscreen. It is recommended to use sunscreen made for children for this purpose.

How Much and How Often

How much sunscreen is appropriate? “Experts say one ounce is enough to cover exposed areas. Sunscreen should be applied 15-30 minutes before you go outside,” stated registered nurse Carolyn Vachani. “So that five-ounce tube of sunscreen, in general, should only last five applications. You should reapply every two hours no matter what you are doing, but sooner if you go swimming or are sweating a lot.”

Waterproof Versus Water Resistant

When scanning the sunscreen aisle, consumers may notice the terms ‘waterproof’ and ‘water resistant’. Waterproof typically provides protection for 80 minutes in the water. Water resistant provides approximately 40 minutes of protection.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by the reality of the importance of protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Using the appropriate sunscreen will keep the fun in your outdoor experiences this summer and into the winter months.

How to Use Sunscreen Properly

There is no such thing as a “safe tan” or a “healthy tan”. Whether you are enjoying the outdoors or sandwiched in an indoor tanning bed, you are exposing yourself harmful ultra-violet (UV) rays that damage your skin. A painful red sunburn is a short-term problem that can have long-term effects, such as skin cancer. Persistent and continual sun damage, such as fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, dilated blood vessels, and uneven skin tone and texture, are the direct result of sun exposure year after year. The good news is that using the right sunscreen can not only protect you from irritating sunburn, but it can also help prevent against skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.

The Difference Between UVA and UVB

The two primary ultra-violet rays are known as ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays are the longest in wavelength. The ozone layer is unable to stop them from penetrating the earth, and they reach the deepest into our skin. As such, they don’t just cause damage to the skin we see on the surface, like a tan or a burn, but rather they also damage our second layer of skin, the dermis. This is where the long-term sun damage will reside for the rest of our lives.

UVB rays are shorter in wavelength and are partially, but not fully, blocked by our ozone layer. This is the ray that is responsible for immediate sunburn.

Both rays are responsible for changing the color of your skin. When the rays of the sun though the skin, the cause the melanin, or skin color pigment, to change color. Melanin is your body’s built-in sun shield, but it only works after the damage has started, not before. When your skin turns tan, it’s telling you that it is being damaged and trying to protect itself.

Sun Protection Factor 

Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, is a rating system to help you determine the level of sun protection in the product you are using. Ranging from 2 to 60+, SPF is different for everybody. To determine the best level of protection for you, you need to know the amount of sun exposure time it takes for your skin to burn. Let’s say you need ten minutes of sun exposure for the skin to turn red. If you opt for a sunscreen with a level of 2 SPF, you multiply that by your exposure time, and you get 20. That means a sunscreen with an SPF of 2 would provide you with 20 minutes of protection before you start to burn. Therefore, using an SPF of 30 would provide you with 300 minutes of protection before your skin would turn red. The higher the SPF number, the longer it will take to burn.

Keep in mind, however, that sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day. It does have a time limit and once that limit has expired, your skin is fair game to sun exposure all over again. Also, SPF cannot be added together to create a higher number. A sunscreen with an SPF of 2 applied over a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 does not make an SPF of 17. Rather, the sunscreen with the highest number will be the SPF you have applied.

What to Look For When Buying a Sunscreen

There are two primary ways that sunscreen protects your skin: chemically and physically. Chemical sunscreen ingredients include octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), oxybenzone, or Avobenzone, also known by the brand name Parsol-1789. These ingredients work by absorbing the rays and doing away with them. Physical ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc are reflective, and physically reflect the light away from the skin.

When reading the labels, choose a sunscreen that says “Broad Spectrum”. This means that it has sunscreen ingredients, which target both UVA and UVB rays. Waterproof formulas perform better if you tend to sweat heavily or will be swimming or working out. If you are opening a bottle you stored in the medicine cabinet from last year, check its expiration date to ensure it is still effective. If the date has passed, you need to replace it.

Other Ways to Be Smart in the Sun

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Make sure that you cover easy-to-miss areas like the ears and the tops of your feet.

Boost the SPF in clothing by purchasing a colorless dye at your local department store. Simply wash garments in the dye to enhance their natural protection factor.

Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses that provide UV protection for the eyes, and apply a lip balm with SPF as well.

The sun’s rays are the strongest from 10 a.m. To 4 p.m. Try to spend those hours indoors or in the shade.

If traveling, check the altitude of the area you will be visiting. Higher altitudes are closer to the sun and can catch visitors off guard.

UV rays reflect off water, snow, and sand. You can become sunburned even when spending most of the time in the shade.


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