Don’t Leave Home Without it
It’s that time of year again. Backyard bbqs, afternoons in the park, swimming and bike rides. All that extra time outside does a number on your skin if your not prepared. Protect your skin with these tips on how to select the best skin protection. Technological advancements and improved knowledge about the sun have complicated issues regarding sunscreens. The best sunscreen for your skin is dependent on a number of factors including sensitivity, your skin type, previous exposure to sun, cancer history and your health history.
Importance of Sunscreens
Using a sunscreen is just one of the many approaches intended to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. The sun generates warmth (infrared) that you can feel, light (visible) and ultraviolet light (UVL), which you cannot detect or see, but penetrates into your skin. UVL is further classified as UVA and UVB. UVB light helps your skin to produce vitamin D, but overexposure to sun can cause sunburn and skin cancer. UVA light goes deeper into your skin, and prolonged exposure may cause burning, premature aging of the skin and skin cancers. Both UVB and UVA suppress the functions of the skin — the main reason why experts recommend the use of sunscreen.
Choosing the Best Sunscreen
In choosing the best sunscreen, you should select the one that protects your skin either by absorbing or blocking harmful UVL. The sunscreen products are tested, labeled and classified based on their sun protective capabilities.
SPF for UVB Protection
Sun protection factor (SPF) indicates how long you should expect to be exposed to the UVB before burning in comparison to no sunscreen. For instance, if it takes you 10 minutes to burn without a sunscreen and 150 minutes to burn while wearing a sunscreen, then the SPF to that particular sunscreen is 15 (150/10). Always go for sunscreen products with a higher SPF for better protection. Additionally, protection from these sunscreens is provided only if they are applied in quantities similar to those used during testing, i.e. 2mg/cm2, equivalent to 6 teaspoons for the average adult body. It is most likely that you are applying a sunscreen about a third the thickness used for testing, ignoring mostly exposed areas, and forgetting to reapply after sweating or swimming. As long as you use a sunscreen with an SPF of above 15, it should offer adequate protection, if used appropriately.
Broad Spectrum for UVA protection
Increased awareness about UVA-induced skin damage has made it a necessity for the reason you should go for a sunscreen that will also protect your skin from UVA radiation. The products come with the label “Broad Spectrum.” Purchase products containing at least one ingredient that shields your skin from all UVA ranges. The best products have physical blockers, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and chemical absorbers, bemotrizinol, bisoctrizole, ecamsuleand avobenzone.
Ensure the sunscreen of your choice has a UVA protection factor (UVA-PF) of at least 1/3 of the labeled SPF. This means a sunscreen with a higher SPF has a higher UVA protection.
Select a sunscreen that is photostable so that it doesn’t breakdown and become inefficient when you get exposed to sunlight. Some agents like octocrylene, bemotrizinol and bisoctrizole become photostable after they are combined with other chemical-absorbing agents to improve the overall photostability of the sunscreen product.
What sunscreen can I use?
Coming up with the best sunscreen for you will depend on a number of factors.
If your skin is fair and burns easily, select a broad spectrum with a high SPF of 30 or above. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with an intermediate SPF if you have a skin that tans very readily, e.g. 8-15+. There is no need for a sunscreen if you are darkly pigmented and don’t suffer from sun photosensitivity problems.
Choosing the best sunscreen relative to your skin type is an important role in taking care of your skin. If used properly, a sunscreen will ensure that you achieve the best protection. All areas exposed to the sun should be liberally covered with a sunscreen. Since sunscreen takes about 20-30 minutes to be absorbed by the skin, refrain from going out in the sun for about an hour after application. It is important to keep reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours if you are staying out in the sun. Choose your sunscreen wisely and stick to it every day.
This article was compiled for Dr. David Jensen by Larry Heinrichs