Navigating the Sunscreen Aisle
As the weather heats up and you head to the sunscreen aisle you might be confused at the vast variety of different choices. Which one is right for you? SPF, UVA, UVB, 10, 30, 50, mineral, chemical, spray or lotion?
Let's run through some basics to help you decipher the best way to shield your skin from the harsh summer (and even winter) sun.
Here are some terms you might see and what they mean:
UV: Ultraviolet radiation. Invisible rays that are part of the energy coming from the sun. These can burn the skin, and possibly cause skin cancers.
Important to sunscreen are two different forms of ultraviolet radiation light:
a) UVA also known as long-wave light, accounts for about 95% of the UV light that reaches our skin. These are mainly linked to long-term skin damage such as wrinkles and fine lines, but they are also thought to play a role in some skin cancers.
b) UVB can damage the DNA in the skin cells directly, UVB are the primary rays that cause sunburns. They are also considered to cause most skin cancers.
Broad Spectrum: Offers protection from both UVB rays, which burn skin, and UVA rays, which cause damage like collagen breakdown.
SPF: These letters stand for stand for Sun Protection Factor, specifically for UVB rays. The number coinciding with it is a measure of how much sun energy is needed to produce a sunburn on protected skin. As the SPF value increases, so does sunburn protection.
A good rule of thumb recommendation for sunscreen would be a broad-spectrum sunscreen no less then SPF 30.
Chemical VS Mineral Sunscreen: Mineral based sunscreens use physical blockers-zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide-which form an actual barrier on your skin and reflect the UV rays. Others use chemical blockers-typically a combination of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and/or octinoxate-which absorb UV radiation to dissipate it.
Application and Reapplication Guidelines: It's recommended you apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before exposure to sun and reapply every 2 hours to be and stay protected.
Expiry Date: Just as food has an expiry date, so does sunscreen. To ensure that your sunscreen is working at its full capacity always remember to check the date on the bottle.
Spray or Lotion? This option is totally up to you and your personal preference. Try both and see what feels better.
Pucker up! Don't forget your lips. Sunscreen in your lip balm is just as important. Lips are exposed skin too!
If you can, have a friend apply sunscreen to the areas hardest to reach.
Even if it's cloudy outside the harmful rays from the sun can still reach, burn and damage your skin.
Don't forget your ears! They are easy to miss.
Sunscreen isn't the only option available to protect you. Many clothing brands now offer specific UPF protective clothing that can shield your skin.
Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin. These fabrics can be used alone or in conjunction with your sunscreen regimen to help fight the Suns harmful rays.
Alright get out there and have some safe fun in the sun!! Don't forget your hat and sunglasses!
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