Don’t get caught with a painful sunburn this summer!
Here are 10 Tips to protect your skin from the sun.
Most of us still forget to slather on the sunscreen. Study shows that only 14% of American men and 30% of American women regularly put sunscreen on their faces or other exposed skin before heading out for more than an hour.
- It’s important to remember to use sunscreen even when it’s cloudy. Why? Because the sun rays still come through the clouds.
- Apply at least one ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) at least 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Also, use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
- Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. Make sure it is water-resistant and has an SPF of 30 or higher. Other sunscreens may help keep you from getting sunburned, but they won’t protect against skin cancer. Also, know that the higher SPF number the better the protection up to a point
- Reapply1 sunscreen every two hours. Reapply every hour if you are swimming or sweating. Or follow instructions on the container.
- Be extra careful around water and sand. These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of getting sunburn.
Avoid #sunburn by learning which #SPF strength to choose, how it works, and how often to reapply!Tweet
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- Keep babies younger than 6 months old completely covered and in the shade.
- Limit the amount of time you’re in the sun between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. This is when the sun’s rays are the most intense. Practice the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest, and you should find shade.
- If possible, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Dark clothing with tightly woven fabric blocks more sun than white or loosely woven fabrics. For additional protection, look for clothes made with special sun-protective materials.
- Accessorize with a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears and a pair of sunglasses2. Sunglasses with lenses that have 99% to 100% UV absorption provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
- Be even more cautious if you are taking medications3 that may make you more sensitive to the sun. These include specific types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antifungals, blood pressure medications, and chemotherapies.
Can’t decide between SPF 15, 30, or 50? Here’s how to find your number…
It can be hard to figure out what’s right for you. Is there really a difference between SPF 30 and 50? And why isn’t there one standard SPF number? To answer these questions and more, we turned to Jordana Mattioli, a NYC licensed medical esthetician and sun protection guru for some skin-saving advice.
First, a quick lesson in SPF. What exactly does it protect you from?
SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” and it measures your sunscreen protection from UVB rays. Think about this way: If your skin would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun, applying an SPF 15 sunscreen would allow you to stay in the sun without burning for approximately 150 minutes (a factor of 15 times longer, hence SPF 15). It’s not an exact estimate though. Also, SPF does not measure how well a sunscreen will protect from UVA rays. While UVB rays are what cause physical sunburns, UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with aging. They also increase the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own. That’s why it’s super important to look for a sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection.”
Why do we have different SPF levels — why don’t we just have one standard?
The FDA didn’t introduce SPF measures until the mid-70s, and even though it’s been quite some time, they are very slow with adapting to new regulations! But just this past year, some newer regulations were passed: The FDA now requires sunscreen products with SPF lower than 15 to include a warning. It reads: “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer, or early skin aging.” This same warning must appear on sunscreen products that are not broad spectrum.
Would you recommend a low-level SPF 15 to anyone?
Darker skin types can use a lower level, such as SPF15 since they have more melanin in their skin, which does give some protection. However, I really recommend everyone start at SPF 30. Darker skin may not sunburn as easily as those with fair skin, but they are still at risk of skin damage from sun exposure.
What’s the difference between SPF 30 and 50? How do you choose between them?
SPF 30 is the most common level for most people and skin types. No sunscreen can block all UV rays, but what we do know is: SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. So, the difference between 30 and 50 is about 1 percent. But every bit of extra protection can be beneficial if you are very fair or spending a lot of time in direct sun! And most people apply less than the recommended amount (about one ounce for full body coverage), so the higher the number the better.
Are there any drawbacks to using a higher SPF?
There is often a false sense of security with higher numbers. You think since you’re wearing a higher level, you are invincible to the sun, and that’s just not the case. Most of us also forget that SPF is only at its most active for about two hours, so you need to reapply it often.
Does the product texture change as you move higher up in the SPF level? How does it impact the look and feel of it?
The product texture can change, but it’s not very noticeable. It’s more about the types of sunscreens ingredients used. Physical sunscreens made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide will usually be slightly more opaque than chemical sunscreens. But many sunscreens now combine several different active chemical and physical sunscreen ingredients in order to provide broad-spectrum protection.
Here is a helpful chart to help you understand SPF.
Whether at the beach or hanging out at a backyard BBQ make sure you use a Broad Spectrum Sun Screen.
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