Sunscreen for the Summer Sun

June 2nd, 2016

Photo MaySummer has officially arrived and it’s that time of year to make sure you are protected against the harmful rays of the sun. There are many brands of sunscreen available that will work for you, however, no brand is recommended over others.

Here is a list of things to look for when selecting a sunscreen:

1) Broad spectrum: This indicates that the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays. There are different active ingredients in sunscreens.  Products like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide deflect the sun’s rays whereas products like oxybenzone or avobenzone absorb the sun’s rays.  Any of these ingredients, or ones that are similar, are acceptable.

2) Water resistant: Choose a product that is either 40 minutes or 80 minutes water resistant.  If you are in the water this summer, you will have to reapply every 40 or 80 minutes based on your choice.

3) SPF 30 or higher:  This is important to avoid getting a sun burn. SPF 30 filters 97% of suns rays and SPF 50 filters 98% of sun’s rays.

Once you have selected a sunscreen, it is important to apply it to your body correctly:

1) Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside.  It takes this long for the sunscreen to become effective.

2) Apply at least one ounce (a full shot glass) to the exposed areas of the body.  It may take more for bigger people.

3) Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating. Many sunscreens will say “water proof” or “sweat proof”, but there is no such thing. You need to reapply regularly to avoid damage to your skin. Also, the sun reflects off the water’s surface very easily and increases the exposure of the sun’s rays.

4) Apply sunscreen every day. Remember even on a cloudy day when the sun is getting through to earth’s surface you can get a sunburn.

Even if you do not want to wear a sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing such as wide-brim hats and sunglasses can protect you. The midday sun (10 a.m.- 2 p.m.) is the strongest so avoid being outside during that time if possible. Be aware if you are in an area at a higher elevation: areas of higher altitude provide greater exposure to the sun’s rays.

Parents with children less than six months of age should speak to a pediatrician before using sunscreen.