Who needs to use sunscreen?
With this cooler and cloudier than usual weather we have been having, many of us wonder, is sunscreen even necessary on these cloudy days. Well, I am here to tell you that everyone should be using sunscreen every day regardless of the clouds.
More than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually and there are numerous studies that associate sunburns with increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
What are UVA and UVB rays?
The sun emits 2 types of harmful rays: ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. UVA rays penetrate window glass and penetrate deeper into our skin. UVA rays can also alter our immune system’s ability to monitor the development of skin cancer. UVA rays also cause premature aging of the skin. UVB rays cannot penetrate window glass and is the primary cause of sunburn. Sunburns are directly associated with skin cancers.
Even on cloudy days, 80% of the ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds. So, sunscreen is still needed on these cloudy days.
What type of sunscreen should one use and what ingredients should one look for?
There are many types of sunscreen and the type that you choose is really a personal choice. Creams yield a thicker application than lotions so they are best for the face. Gel may be better for hairy areas like the scalp or male chest. Ideally, sunscreens should be water-resistant and with a SPF higher than 30 and provide broad spectrum coverage against both UVA and UVB rays.
Ingredients to look for include:
- Anthelios SX
- Octyl methoxycinnamate
- Titanium dioxide
- Zinc Oxide
What is an SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number refers to the product’s ability to deflect only the UVB rays. For example, a SPF of 2 means that instead of the person who normally tans at say 10 minutes, it would take them 20 minutes instead with this sunscreen. SPF of 30 does not offer twice the protection of SPF 15. SPF 30 screens 97% of UVB rays while SPF 15 screens 93% of UVB rays.
How to be smart in the sun
- Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with SPF of at least 30. Reapply every 2 hours.
- Wear protective clothing and seek shade whenever possible.
- Use extra caution near water, snow and sand because they reflect the damaging rays of the sun.
- Avoid tanning beds: instead use self tanning products.
- Get Vitamin D safely through a healthy diet: don’t seek the sun.
- Check your birthday suit on your birthday. Early detection can save your life.