There have been a lot of developments in the sunscreen arena this past year. New regulations like the FDA Sunscreen Monograph and the Sunscreen Innovation Act are designed to protect consumers, demystify false claims and force manufacturers to come clean with their labeling.
Deciding how to protect yourself, effectively and naturally, from the sun’s UV light can still be confusing. But one thing is very clear: We need to use sunscreen every day. Even when the sun doesn’t shine, enough UV light comes through the clouds to cause damage. UV comes through your car window, it reflects off sand and snow, and it penetrates at least three feet underwater. And ninety percent of your lines and wrinkles are caused by exposure to UV light.
Here is your summer checklist for sunscreen:
LOOK FOR ZINC OXIDE or TITANIUM DIOXIDE In order to get protection from both UVB and UVA light, you need to look for what is known as “broad spectrum” coverage. SPF only protects against UVB, and the UVA rays are the ones that can lead to premature aging and melanoma. There are many ingredients that can be listed as “active ingredients,” but to get broad-spectrum protection, make sure your sunscreen has either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide listed there.
DON’T SKIMP According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most of us only apply 25 to 30 percent of the amount we need. For adults, for full-body coverage at the beach, you need a shot glass-full, and half as much for a child. Reapply every two hours, or whenever you come out of the water.
REMEMBER THE DETAILS Small areas like ears, feet, lips, neck and exposed scalp need protection, too. Squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer caused by UV exposure, is often found in these overlooked areas.
THE SPF FACTOR For daily coverage, SPF 15 is enough, unless you are extremely fair or you are spending your day at the beach, when you would want to use an SPF 30. Higher than that, the additional coverage is only incremental, and the potential for skin sensitivity and irritation increases a great deal.
STORE IT PROPERLY According to the Mayo Clinic, sunscreens are formulated to remain strong and stable for up to three years, though natural sunscreens degrade sooner than that. It is also important to keep your sunscreen out of the sun. In your car, avoid keeping it on the dashboard, and on the beach, keep it in your bag.
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