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Sun Safety Tips

There are two kinds of ultraviolet radiation (UV) – ultraviolet A rays (UVA) and ultraviolet B rays (UVB). When used correctly, sunscreen can help protect against sunburns, skin damage, and skin cancer all caused by UVA and UVB rays.

With warmer weather just around the corner, it’s important to remember our sunscreen and other sun safety tips so we can enjoy a happy – and healthy – summer season.

SPF: Sun Protection Factor

SPF, sun protection factor, is the standard way to measure the degree of protection that a sunscreen provides. A product with a higher SPF value offers a higher UVB protection.

However, not all sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It’s highly recommended to look for bottles labeled as ‘broad-spectrum sunscreens’.

Broad Spectrum

The SPF value does not measure the degree of protection against UVA – the other portion of UV rays that can cause sunburn, skin damage, and skin cancer. Ingredients that indicate a product has adequate UVA protection include: avobenzone, octocrylene, and zinc oxide.

Sunscreen bottles that do have broad spectrum protection will state: “If used as directed with other sun protection measures, this product reduces the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, as well as helps prevent sunburn” directly on its label.

When, and How Much to Apply

Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outside and be sure to reapply every two hours if you are staying outdoors. Reapply immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating.

Use an SPF of at least 30 and that has broad spectrum protection.

If you are using a sunscreen lotion or cream, apply about 1 ounce (two tablespoons) to your entire body.

If you are using a spray on sunscreen, spray until you have an even shine or layer on your skin and rub it in. You can use spray on sunscreen to protect your scalp, too! To protect your lips, use a lip balm with SPF protection.

The Difference Between Sunscreens

Gels and sprays may feel less greasy than lotions – but they may be more likely to irritate sensitive skin. Water resistant sunscreen will stay on longer, but is only effective at protecting you while in the water for 40 – 80 minutes, so reapplying more often is necessary.

Other Protective Options

Applying sunscreen correctly is an essential step in protecting yourself against sunburns and skin cancer. But there is more you can do.

  • Consider wearing protective clothing, such as long sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
  • Stay out of the sun from 10 AM and 2 PM, when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Choose a shaded location rather than being in the direct sun.