Hello SOTGC community,
Hopefully you are all hard at work and enjoying a healthy and successful spring. As summer approaches, many of us start wondering if it’s time to cover up and protect ourselves from the sun. We all know that sunscreen is probably a good idea, but there are so many different products to choose from. What should one look for on a label when selecting an appropriate sunscreen? This is what we found.
There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that are known to harm human skin: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are responsible for wrinkles, age spots, and prematurely aging skin. UVB rays are known for causing sunburns. Both UVA and UVB are associated with skin cancer. The best sunscreens offer protection against all types of UV light.
The first item to look at on a sunscreen label is the SPF (sun protection factor). SPF is a measure of how well and how long the sunscreen deflects UVB rays. SPF 15 filters out about 93 percent of all UV radiation. SPF 30 filters out about 97 percent of UV radiation and SPF 50 filters up to 98 precent. The next thing to look at on a label is if the sunscreen has broad-spectrum protection. Broad-spectrum (or full-spectrum) implies that the sunscreen protects the skin against both UVA and UVB rays.
Next, sunscreens are broken down into two main types, organic and inorganic. Organic, or chemical sunscreens, absorb UV radiation and convert it to heat. Most sunscreens are organic. Inorganic, or mineral sunscreens, reflect and scatter UV rays. Most broad-spectrum sunscreens use a combination of both types in order to effectively block both UVA and UVB rays. To further confuse the situation, sunscreens often include vitamins, insect repellents, retinol, etc. They may be water-resistant, oil-free, tinted, etc., etc.
So, which sunscreen is the best one you ask? Well, it turns out that it matters less which sunscreen product you use than how you use it. Start with a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum and water-resistant with an SPF of at least 15. Pay attention to expiration dates and use the product as directed on the label. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors, apply generously and regularly. If you’re outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours and immediately after heavy sweating or swimming.
The most important thing to remember is that sunscreen should be used in combination with other methods for adequate sun protection. Cover up, avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., use wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses, and avoid UV tanning beds. Enjoy the weather ladies!
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