Yup.. It’s that time of the year again! Beach, pool, lake… you name it, we’re there.
I have to say, this weekend was the perfect start to the beach season here in NE. Grab your trunks, towels, sunglasses, and…. don’t forget your SUNSCREEN!
In honor of National Skin Cancer Awareness Month (May.. with 2 days left to go..lol), I thought it would be fitting to write a post about sunscreen. Here’s some helpful info I got from the The American Academy of Dermatology…
Q.What sunscreen should I use?
- The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:
- Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays).
- Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater.
- Water resistance.
- A sunscreen that offers the above helps to protect your skin from sunburn, early skin aging, and skin cancer. However, sunscreen alone cannot fully protect you. Dermatologists also recommend that you seek shade when your shadow is shorter than you are and protect your skin by wearing long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses whenever possible.
Q. Who needs sunscreen?
- Everyone. People of all skin colors get skin cancer. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually.
- Many of these skin cancers could have been prevented with protection from the sun’s rays.
Q. When should I use sunscreen?
- Every day. The sun emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays year round.
- Even on cloudy days, harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin.
- On a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds.
- Snow and sand increase the need for sunscreen.
- Snow reflects 80 percent of the sun’s rays, and sand reflects 25 percent of the sun’s rays.
Q. How much sunscreen should I use, and how often should I apply it?
- Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin that will be not be covered by clothing. Ask yourself, “Will my face, ears, arms, or hands be covered by clothing?” If not, apply sunscreen.
- To be sure you use enough, follow this guideline:
- One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body. Adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on your body size.
- Most people only apply 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen.
- Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.
- Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Re-apply sunscreen approximately every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily according to the directions on the bottle.
Q. What type of sunscreen should I use?
- The best type of sunscreen is the one you will use again and again. Just make sure it offers UVA and UVB protection, an SPF of 30 or greater and is water resistant.
- The kind of sunscreen you choose is a matter of personal choice, and may vary depending on the area of the body to be protected. Available sunscreen options include lotions, creams, gels, ointments, wax sticks and sprays.
- Creams are best for dry skin and the face.
- Gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest.
- Sticks are good to use around the eyes.
- Sprays are sometimes preferred by parents since they are easy to apply to children. Make sure to use enough of these products to cover the entire surface area thoroughly, and do not inhale these products.
- There also are sunscreens made for specific purposes, such as for sensitive skin and babies.
- Regardless of which sunscreen you choose, be sure to apply it generously to achieve the UV protection indicated on the product label.
Q. Can I use the sunscreen I bought last summer, or do I need to purchase a new bottle each year? Does it lose its strength?
- Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen every day, not just during the summer. If you are using sunscreen every day and in the correct amount, a bottle should not last long. If you find a bottle of sunscreen that you have not used for some time, here are some guidelines you can follow:
- The FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years.
- Some sunscreens include an expiration date. If the expiration date has passed, throw out the sunscreen.
- If you buy a sunscreen that does not have an expiration date, write the date you bought the sunscreen on the bottle. That way you’ll know when to throw it out.
- You also can look for visible signs that the sunscreen may no longer be good. Any obvious changes in the color or consistency of the product mean it’s time to purchase a new bottle.
Q. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. What is the difference between the rays?
- Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays that reach the earth – ultraviolet A (UVA) rays and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Overexposure to either can lead to skin cancer. In addition to causing skin cancer, here’s what each of these rays do:
- UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, and can pass through window glass.
- UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.
- The United States Department of Health & Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer have declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
- There is no safe way to tan. Every time you tan, you damage your skin. As this damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer.
Q. Is sunscreen all I need to protect myself from the sun?
- Sunscreen plays an important role in protecting your skin from the sun, but it does not offer complete protection. To protect your skin and find skin cancer early, dermatologists recommend the following:
- Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. “Broad-spectrum” provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Re-apply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.
- Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look tan, consider using a self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
- Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.
And one more tip.. If you like to be tan, self-tanners work wonders!
Now, which do you prefer?
Trust me, living in Miami, I’ve seen women with that leathery look.. You don’t want to look like that.. And I will openly admit to you, I am guilty. I have gone many years without wearing sunscreen and getting burnt, but I truly have learned. And I truly want to look young forever… without skin cancer, I might add. So people… PLEASE, wear your sunscreen! The reasons are all crystal clear.