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By Susan Peterson PA-C
February 17, 2016
Category: Sun Protection
Tags: Untagged

Put on your thinking cap!
"Let's learn how to read a sunscreen label"

There are (5) areas to understand.
1) Broad Spectrum - Your sunscreen shoud list itself as broad spectrum.  That means it will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays that damage the skin.

2) SPF - This is a measurement of how long you can be outdoors before the UVB rays cause damage to your skin in the form of a sunburn.  If normally you can be out for 20 minutes before reddening an SPF of 30 will theoretically allow you to be out 30 times longer before reddening.  Remember though this number is determined in a lab.  So for safety sake re-apply every (2) hours and after swimming or heavy perspiration.  Look for an SPF of 30 for extended coverage.

3) Water-Resistant - No sunscreen is fully waterproof or sweat proof.  So re-apply after swimming or heavy perspiring.

4) Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation - This assures you that it is safe and effective for your use.  The seal also indicates if it is recommended for daily use or active exposures.

5) Active Ingredients - There are (2) main types of sunscreen ingredients.  (Chemical and Physical)
    Chemical Ingredients work by absorbing UV rays.  Avobenzone and benzophenone are names you may recognize.
Preferred are physical ingredients of Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.  These protective ingredients last longer and by staying on the surface of the skin deflect the harmful rays of the sun.

Now you can understand your sunscreen label.
Remember sunscreen is one part of sun protection.  Enjoy the shade between 10am and 4pm.  Wear sun protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-protective sunglasses.

 

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