Posted on : September 15, 2010 | By : Sophie Callahan | In : Health and Fitness
Summertime and warm weather means a lot of time spent outdoors in the sun. More exposure to the sun and its UV rays means you are going to need greater protection for your skin. The solution to that may seem easy – just put on sunscreen. However, choosing the right sunscreen is a bit more complex than it may seem. There are so many options to consider when choosing a sunscreen, other than just SPF. We have answers to get you more informed and help you make an educated decision when choosing your sunscreen.
To begin, the amount of SPF protection in sunscreen ranges from SPF 2 to SPF 100+! SPF is an abbreviation for Sun Protection Factor. This measures the length of time the sunscreen will protect you from getting sunburn, compared to not wearing any sunscreen. For example, SPF 15 will protect you from getting sunburn 15 times longer than if you did not use sunscreen. You may think that SPF 30 would give you double protection as SPF 15 from the sun, but it does not work that way. When choosing sun protection, you need to consider the sun’s UV rays.
UVB rays are what cause you to get sunburn. UVA rays have more long terms damage on your skin, like skin cancer and wrinkles. SPF 15 blocks 94% of UVB rays and SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays – now that’s not double the protection! There are many things this information brings you to consider when choosing a sunscreen. First of all, it’s the UVA rays that cause skin cancer, so you want to find a sunscreen with more than just the SPF protection from UVB rays. You want one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Generally, theses types of sunscreens are labeled as “broad spectrum”. Look on the label for ingredients such as avobenzone, ecamsule, or zinc oxide. Also, UVB rays allow natural Vitamin D into your body. So, you must be careful not to get Vitamin D deficiency from wearing too much sunscreen and completely blocking this vitamin from getting to your system.
Now that you know what the SPF levels mean, you need to choose a sunscreen that is best for you. If you have lighter skin, you will obviously need an SPF that has stronger and longer protection from the sun’s UV rays. But, Dermatologists do not recommend high SPFs just to people with lighter skin tones. They recommend that everyone uses a higher SPF (check out the most Dermatologist Recommended Brands). The higher the SPF, the greater protection you will have from harmful UV rays. Even if you wear a higher SPF you should still stick to the recommended guidelines for reapplying your sunscreen.
Research shows that you get the best protection from you sunscreen if you apply it 15-30 minutes before going into the sun and then reapply after being in the sun for 15-30 minutes. Then, you should reapply sunscreen every two hours because the ingredients protecting against UVA rays break down rather quickly when exposed to the sun’s rays. If you go in the water or sweat, you will need to reapply the sunscreen. Waterproof sunscreen is available; but, follow the instructions carefully because this too will need reapplication. In addition to sunscreen, there are other things you can wear to protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays, like clothes, hats, and make-up.