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Sun Protection: How to Protect your Skin from the Sun this Summer?

Updated on July 12, 2013
The Sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
The Sun by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory | Source

As the days get hotter the sun gets more and more intense. This intensity can burn and damage your skin, along with expose your skin to harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer. So in light of this startling fact, here are some information and tips that can be used to protect and care for your skin.

Your skin is meant to protect you, provide a layer or barrier between your insides and the outside world. Considering that the skin is your largest organ, you have to take extra precautions and steps to protecting your skin. One precaution is to invest in a good sunscreen. Before we get into how to pick and how to use a sunscreen, here are some key terms and definitions used around sunscreens and skin protection.

Key terms

A sunscreen is a product that contains ingredients meant to help prevent and protect the skin against the sun’s ultra violet rays/radiation, which can cause skin damage and cancer. There are two types of ultra violet rays/radiation, UVA and UVB.

Ultraviolet A or UVA sun rays- penetrate your skin, more deeply then UVB rays and they are attributed to sagging, wrinkling and leathering of skin. They also cause your skin to darken or tan (but not sunburn). Ultraviolet B or UVB sun rays-pretty much cause sunburn. These UV rays can both damage skin, cause premature aging and can expose your skin to skin cancer.

Sun protection factor, aka SPF measures a sunscreens capability and capacity of preventing UVB sun rays from damaging the skin. SPF is calculated by comparing the time regular unprotected bare skin sunburns to the time sunscreen protected skin sunburns. Sunscreen allows for the skin to sunburn slower than with-out the sunscreen. Keep in mind skin can be damaged without getting sunburn, so you have to be extra safe. SPF is also meant to deflect potentially harmful sun-rays.

The higher the SPF rating the better protection, even so keep in mind that after a certain point a SPF protection isn’t that much higher or greater than it may seem to be. Example: SPF 30 sunscreen provides protection and deflects 97% of sun-rays while an SPF 15 sunscreen provides protection and deflects 93% of sun-rays. Though higher, it only offers a relatively low difference in percentage (such as 3%) and protection.

To Use Sunscreen or Not: Comparison of Sunscreen in Regular and UV light, shows sunscreen offers some uv protection
To Use Sunscreen or Not: Comparison of Sunscreen in Regular and UV light, shows sunscreen offers some uv protection | Source

Also most sunscreens are only required to protect against UVB rays, even so, UVA rays can harm your skin too, so its important to find a sunscreen that provides protection against both UVB and UVA rays. A sunscreen that can do that is an broad spectrum protection sunscreen.

Broad spectrum protection- this type of sunscreen offers protection from both UVA sun rays and UVB sun rays. It also contains ingredients such as sulisobenzone, benzophenones (oxybenzone), salicylates, zinc oxide, PABA derivatives, titanium oxide, cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), and avobenzone.

Specifically you would want a sunscreen that is water resistant (so they won’t rub-off), has an SPF of 30 or higher and that provides broad spectrum protection.

Child  with UV sun protective swimwear
Child with UV sun protective swimwear | Source

How to Use Sunscreen Effectively

Sunscreen is best for anyone six months and over (pretty much everyone). For people under six months (aka babies) talk to your pediatrician and ask for permission to use sunscreen and look for alternatives to sunscreen such as keeping out of the sun, protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses.

You must apply sunscreen between 15 and 30 minutes before you head outside so it can process in your skin. You need to apply about 1 ounce, oz, or a shot glass full of sunscreen on your body. For a full day at the beach, (about eight hours) you should apply around half of an 8oz sized bottle.

You also need to reapply every two hours, about four times in a full day. You must also apply it immediately after swimming, sweating a lot, and toweling off your body.

Additional Sun Protection

Hats, sunglasses, and other cover-ups offer additional methods of protection. These items can also be treated so they offer SPF and/or they can naturally offer UV rays protection

Hats that cover your head/hair and your ears, such as big floppy, wide/broad brimmed hats

Darker colored clothing absorbs UV lights and rays, so they do the absorbing your skin should’ve done if you were wearing material that is lighter in color.

Clothing woven and knitted tightly can also protect your skin.

Sunglasses can offer uv protection and sun protective clothing
Sunglasses can offer uv protection and sun protective clothing | Source

The sun can also damage eyes causing the whites of the eyes to redden. Even so, sunglasses can offer protection from harmful rays. Sunglasses are specifically made for UV 400 protections, impact resistant (aka hard to break, tough) and darker colored tinted can offer protection.

You can also use lip balm, all the while certain cosmetics and make-ups can offer UV protection. Do further research to find out what specific products you like and use offer UV protection.

A Man and his umbrella
A Man and his umbrella | Source

Sun safety and protection is key to getting the most out of the sun without the potentially harmful and deadly effects. Even so, I hope this helps a great deal, let me know what you think.

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