With “Spring Break” and “Summer Vacay” on the horizon, plenty of us are planning our tropical, sun filled vacations. As much as we look forward to catching some rays, we need to be careful to use the proper protection; and use it correctly! Many people are confused about which sunscreen to buy when confronted with the vast selection of brands and amount of SPF. Many sunscreens contain Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone, Octisalate, and Octocrylene.
Your SPF & Protection
Today it has become easier to identify various types of sunblock. The ideal product has “broad spectrum” protection, (products that deliver protection against both UVA and UVB rays). There is also the choice of natural (mineral) or chemical sunscreens, or a hybrid of the two. Once you figure out which type or brand you prefer, how do you decide how much protection you need? SPF, or Sun Protection Factor ratings apply only to UVB rays, those rays responsible for sunburn and some types of skin cancer. It is known that UVA rays play a role in skin cancer. They also contribute to premature aging causing wrinkles, age spots and sagging, leathery skin.
Many skin care specialists will recommend a minimum of SPF 15 which blocks about 93 percent of UVB rays for daily use. It is recommend to use a minimum of SPF 30, thereby blocking around 97 percent of UVB rays, while out in summer months for long periods of time. Going higher in SPF rating won’t block that much more. Sunscreen with an SPF 60 rating blocks around 99% of the UVB rays, so for double the factor you only obtain a 2% increase of protection. Read more here about higher SPF levels.
Recent studies have shown that most of us are not applying nearly enough sunscreen to protect for what the bottle indicates. The studies showed that the majority of sunscreen users only applied a maximum of 50% of the amount that delivered the SPF rating in the lab. So, if you‘re wearing SPF 30, you may only be getting SPF protection of between SPF 6 and 15. Another misconception is that SPF 60 will protect you twice as long as SPF 30. Unlike the vast variation between SPF 5 and 15, the difference between SPF 30 and higher numbers is minuscule. Many dermatologists prefer patients who have had skin cancer to use an SPF 60 product. It’s not worth the risk of having further instances with cancer.
Your Suncreen & SPF Go Hand In Hand
American sold SPF products don’t take into account the amount of UVA protection that is delivered so there’s no way to tell how much of the UVA rays you are blocking. Therefore it is important to look for these effective UVA blockers such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or stabilized avobenzone. How much sunscreen you apply is just as important as its SPF rating. Be generous—use at least one ounce (about a golf ball size) every time. Use sunscreen as a third line of defense, behind staying out of the midday sun (10am – 2pm), covering up with hats, and sitting under an umbrella!