We all look forward to fun in the sun and enjoying the warm weather, but at the same time, we need to keep in mind the importance of protecting our precious skin. And while beautiful, healthy-looking skin is lovely, it is imperative that we realize that the possibility of skin cancer is a very real threat to not just our skin, but our lives.

“What should I look for in a sunscreen?”

You need a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. Not all sunscreens do. Also, if we can avoid rubbing chemicals into our skin that may actually be harmful, then we should do so. There are some great natural, mineral-based sunscreens. Here are a few that I recommend:

UVA and UVB. What’s the difference?

To put it simply, UVA stands for Ultraviolet A, and UVB stands for Ultraviolet B. In terms of the skin, we can think of each as a layer. Ultraviolet B refers to sun rays that affect the upper layer, which we call the epidermis—the layer of skin that gets sunburned. The layer just beneath the epidermis is known as the dermis—the layer that gives the skin its strength and elasticity. As the dermis becomes damaged or worn out, it causes the skin to wrinkle, and sun spots (scientifically referred to as hyperpigmentation) can develop.

Beware of extra-high SPFs. They’re not all they’re cracked up to be.

Here’s the thing. The SPF, or Sun Protection Factor is what protects from UVB rays, and only gives you so much protection. Essentially—and in theory—it tells us how long we can be in the sun without getting burned. So if you are someone who typically burns after ten minutes in the sun, then an SPF of 10 is theoretically good for two and half hours.

The trouble is that it doesn’t exactly work that way.

The difference in the level of protection between a 20 SPF and a 45 SPF is just under 3%, and the fact is, sunscreens and sun blocks wear off over time because of sweat and other actions throughout the day.

So as great as it might sound, an SPF of 100 does not mean you can apply your sunscreen once in the morning and then be in the sun all day (or for 25 hours as it would suggest… never mind that that would be a really strange day to begin with) without reapplying it.

If you do need to be in the sun for an extended period of time, it’s recommended that you reapply your sunscreen about every two hours.

Be sure that your sunscreen offers both UVB and UVA protection!

Sunscreens that offer UVA protection are often referred to as “broad spectrum” or “multi spectrum” and will be labeled accordingly. Look for combinations of the following ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone

  • Avobenzone

  • Zinc oxide

  • Ecamsule

  • Titanium dioxide

 

Other tips for showing your skin the love it deserves:

Avoid being in peak sun – Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is when the sun is most intense, so if you can, schedule outdoor activities for other times.

Wear protective clothing – Wear hats that will provide shade, and UV sunglasses that will protect your eyes. The more you keep your skin covered and out of the sun, the better off it will be. UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing, or even darker, tightly woven clothes are better for protecting the skin.

The right foods can help!

While I don’t recommend not using sunscreen, there are certain foods that actually help fight against damage from sun radiation. Foods that are high in antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, along with leafy greens as well as foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon and other fatty fish) are all nutritious foods that will help your skin.

Any thoughts or questions about sunscreens or protecting your skin?

Please comment, or just contact me directly. I’m always here to help.

With love,

Maryanne

 

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