Summer is almost here, which means plenty of fun outdoor adventures and more than our fair share of sun exposure. There’s a lot that goes into buying and applying the correct sunscreen. It’s better to be knowledgeable about protecting yourself. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting your money, or worse yet, exposing yourself to sun damage and possible skin cancer.
UVA & UVB Rays ~ What’s the Difference?
A good way to remember the difference between UVA and UVB rays is that UVA rays are the main culprit in aging. (A for aging, get it?) These rays penetrate the skin much deeper than UVB rays resulting in damage to your skin at a cellular level. UVB rays cause your skin to tan or burn. (B is for burn.) These rays can also cause skin cancer.
What Should You Look For When Buying Sunscreen?
The most important thing to consider when choosing a sunscreen is whether it is broad spectrum. This type of sunscreen will protect you against both UVA and UVB rays. For all around health, it is also wise to choose a sunscreen without parabens, which can act as hormone disruptors in your body and lead to a litany of health problems. A good quality sunscreen will also contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are two ingredients that are essential in preventing premature aging from sun damage.
I use Sun Bum brand sunscreen products. All of the Sun Bum products are broad spectrum, paraben free, oil free, hypoallergenic, and are approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Should You Apply Special Sunscreen to Your Face?
I prefer to use products specifically formulated for the face so I don’t get clogged pores or feel greasy. After much trial and error, I’ve fallen in love with two brands of facial sunscreen: MD Solar Sciences Mineral Tinted Creme and Image Skincare’s Prevention +. Both products are broad spectrum, include antioxidant formulas, and are paraben free.
If you live in the Tampa area, stop by my favorite med spa Skin NV. They sell both of these products along with a wide variety of wonderful anti-aging products.
How Much Sunscreen Should You Use?
On average, people apply about one tablespoon of sunscreen all over their bodies. This is not enough. The SPF protection of sunscreen is significantly reduced if you do not apply the correct amount. The recommended application amount is three tablespoons over your body and about a teaspoon on your face.
How Often Should you Apply Sunscreen?
You should apply sunscreen every two hours. If you swim or work up a sweat, you should apply it more often and be sure that you’re using a water resistant formula. Also, be sure to apply it at least 30 minutes before going into the sun.
When is Your Sun Exposure Increased?
You are at greater risk for sun exposure and damage if you are at a higher altitude. Which means that if you are skiing or hiking, apply sunscreen more often. And while boating, fishing, and playing on the beach are always fun, the reflection of the sun off the water can increase your sun exposure by 50%. So be sure to have your sunscreen with you during these times and slather it on accordingly.
Is it Important to Wear Sunscreen While Driving?
A big, whopping yes! Here’s a photo of a 68 year old man who spent nearly 30 years driving a truck. He did not wear sunscreen.
Notice that the left side of his face, which was exposed to sun coming through the window, is much more wrinkled. The doctor who studied the sun damage said, “The biggest take-home message from all of this is that you can get UV radiation through window glass even if you are just running an errand.”
Looking Stylish While Blocking the Sun
One of my favorite ways to avoid sun exposure is to wear a cool rashguard or a chic hat. This season I’m loving Athleta’s sporty SPF 50 shirts, which come in a variety of colors and sleeve lengths. What I love most about these shirts is how they cover the delicate décolleté area that so easily becomes sun damaged.
My new favorite sun hat just arrived! After seeing Leslie Mann wear it in the movie, “The Other Woman,” I had to have it.
Don’t Forget the Special Areas
Don’t neglect your neck, hands, feet, and décolleté. These areas are thin and they show sun damage and aging more easily than other areas. And the feet, especially between the toes, are a well-known spot for skin cancer.
Why 20 Minutes of Sun Exposure is Good For You
Too much sun can cause pre-mature aging and skin cancer, but did you know that too little sun is also dangerous?
Recent studies have shown that 20 minutes of daily sunlight, without sunscreen, gives your body a vital dose of Vitamin D. Interestingly enough, while called a vitamin, Vitamin D is actually a hormonal steroid that offers tremendous and wide-raging benefits to our health.
Proper dosing of Vitamin D, whether through food, supplementation, or sun exposure, can promote heart health, boost the immune system, and cause an upswing in your mood. It only takes 20 minutes of sun exposure a day to get the maximum benefit so be sure to apply your sunscreen when time’s up.
Now get out your swimsuit, flip flops, and hat! There’s a big, fun summer waiting to be had.