With the summer season in full effect, consumers will see many sunscreen options with different ingredients and question which will work best for them. Sunburn is a major risk factor for skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. Although applying sunscreen may seem like a simple task, many people do not know when to apply sunscreen, how often to reapply, and how much to apply. One study showed that a third of Americans get sunburned each year. This article will outline everything you need to know about sunscreen to stay safe while enjoying the summer sun.
How Does it Work?
Sunscreens are made with ingredients that help to protect the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Both UVA and UVB rays can damage the skin, but the UVB rays are the major cause of sunburn. The ingredients in sunscreen are able to reflect or absorb the rays to prevent sunburn. Some sunscreens are labeled as “broad-spectrum”, which means that they will provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
What is SPF?
SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of how well the sunscreen protects against UVB rays that will damage the skin. Most sunscreens that have an SPF of 15 or above will provide adequate coverage against UVB rays. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best sunscreen will provide broad-spectrum protection, is water-resistant, and has an SPR of at least 30. Any sunscreens with SPF values higher than 50 do not provide any additional protection than products that are SPF 50.
Who Should Use Sunscreen?
Anyone over 6 months of age should use sunscreen. Sunscreen use should be avoided on babies under 6 months due to the risk of skin irritation and their increased sensitivity to the sunlight. Parents should avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. People with fair skin are at a greater risk for skin cancer than those with darker skin, but UV rays can be damaging to any type of skin. All people should use sunscreen regardless of skin color or ethnicity.
How Do I Use Sunscreen?
Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. In order to ensure that you get the full SPF of a sunscreen, you should apply about an ounce to your entire body. Reapplication is an important part of proper sunscreen use, and is often the main cause of sunburn. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating, for optimal protection.
What Type of Sunscreen is Best?
All sunscreens, whether it is a spray or a lotion, are equally effective. The important aspect is how they are applied. The term “organic” on sunscreen is meaningless. The FDA regulates sunscreens and does not have a definition for the term organic, so choosing an “organic” sunscreen does not guarantee that it contains organic ingredients. Sunscreens are formulated to remain effective for 3 years. However, heat can speed up the expiration and degrade the ingredients, so make sure to store your sunscreen out of direct sunlight.
Contact us at Hyde Drug Store if you have any additional questions about how to avoid sunburn this summer.