- Learn to read a label. Check the sun protection factor number; those with SPF 15, or greater, yield the best results. Scan the active ingredient label to make sure the product contains UVA-blocking elements such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or anything in the avobenzone family.
- Do not fry, re-apply. While at the beach or other sun-drenched locations, re-apply your sunscreen at least every two hours. Re-apply immediately after swimming or sweating. Apply a teaspoon for your face and neck and one ounce or a shot glass amount for your body
- Do not hoard your sunscreen. The active ingredients in sunscreens deteriorate over time, so toss a bottle after 12 months.
- Be sun-safe inside. Even if you are indoors, you need to wear a sunscreen with full-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Most of the sun exposure that ages us comes from the windows of our car, home or office.
- Get your C! Double up on safety by using a 20% concentration of topical vitamin C under your sunscreen. It boosts the immune defense of your skin cells against ultraviolet damage while reducing the appearance of brown spots.
- What do different levels of SPF mean? Most dermatologists and skin care experts recommend using an SPF of 15, or greater, daily. When you look at a bottle though, you probably think that SPF 30 gives you twice as much protection as SPF 15 and SPF 45 will be three times better, right? It is not that simple:
- SPF 15 blocks 94 percent of ultraviolet rays
- SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of ultraviolet rays
- SPF 45+ blocks 98 percent of ultraviolet rays
No sunscreen will offer 100 percent protection. Wear a hat, sun protective clothing and sunglasses.
Everyone knows sunscreen is important but there are still five places lots of people miss! Next time you’re lathering up, avoid an awkward burn by remembering these five spots:
- Scalp – Sunscreen in your hair can be a nightmare, but it’s better than a burnt, itchy scalp. Try a gel or spray sunscreen instead of lotion.
- Ears – When we apply sunscreen to our face we usually just cover the center. Don’t forget to lotion your lobes.
- Hands – Yes, the things you use to apply the sunscreen are often forgotten! Remember to cover the top of your hands!
- Feet – Besides the fact that a flip-flop tan can look weird, a burnt foot can hurt! Apply sunscreen to the toes and top of your feet.
- Behind Your Knees – A burn behind the knee can make it uncomfortable to walk. Give this spot the attention it deserves.
Moderating sun exposure and using sunscreen are two of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and to minimize your risk for skin cancer.
OVEREXPOSURE TO THE SUN IS THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF AGING SKIN
If you want to maintain a youthful appearance, you must protect your skin from the sun.
- Avoid suntanning.
- Wear sun screen (SPF 30 or higher) that blocks UVA and UVB rays whenever you are out in the sun.
- Sunscreens are the best “anti-aging” products currently available.
How Sunscreens Work
Sunscreens absorb or reflect ultraviolet rays. Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide reflect or scatter UV radiation. Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) and oxybenzone absorb radiation, dispersing it as heat.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against the two types of damaging UV radiation: UVA (causes tanning) and UVB (causes sunburns).
SPF refers to the sun protection factor in sunscreens.
An SPF of 8 blocks almost 90 percent of UVB rays.
An SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB and some UVA rays.
An SPF of 30 blocks 96 percent of UVB and some UVA rays.
Additional Ways To Avoid Skin Damage
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long sleeved shirt, pants, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.
- Look for shady areas. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4pm. If your shadow appears to be shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.
- Avoid tanning beds. Instead, try a sunless, self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen daily.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. They provide antioxidants, which may help protect cells from free radical damage that occurs when UV rays from the sun are absorbed by our skin.
If your shadow is shorter than you are, then the sun is bright enough to be of concern.
There are two types of ultraviolet rays that are generally not filtered out by the ozone layer, UVA and UVB.
UVA rays account for 95% of the solar radiation that reaches the earth. They penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays and can penetrate clouds and glass. They are the rays that cause the skin to tan and are present on the atmosphere with equal intensity year round. Tanning is actually an injury to the skin’s DNA. The skin tans in an attempt to prevent further DNA damage. UVA rays cause the skin to prematurely age and wrinkle and damage cells in the basal layer of the skin, where most skin cancers occur. They have been proven to contribute to the development of cancer.
UVB rays do not penetrate the skin as deeply as UVA rays. They damage the skin’s surface in the form of sunburns. Although they are always present in the atmosphere, they are strongest between April and October, from 10 am to 4 pm. UVB rays are mainly responsible for the development of skin cancer.
Everyone, regardless of skin color, should make sun protection part of their daily routine. Adolescence is an important time to establish sun safety behaviors that will become lifelong habits.
Sun protection should include seeking shade, covering up with clothing, including a wide brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses and wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.