As you begin to spend more time outdoors, it’s important to choose a high quality sunscreen to protect your skin. There are two types of sun rays to watch out for: UVB and UVA. UVB rays enter the outer layers of the skin and are the main cause of sunburn. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause skin aging and wrinkling. Unlike UVB rays, UVA rays can move through glass, which means they can enter your skin through windows in your vehicle or home.
Besides causing painful sunburns and premature skin aging, overexposure to UVB/UVA rays can cause other health problems. Your chances of developing melanoma (the most serious skin cancer) double if you have had five or more sunburns (www.skincancer.org).
The following ingredients are found in high-quality sunscreens: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone and mexoryl SX (ecamsule).
- Zinc and titanium offer UVA and UVB protection, are stable in sunlight, generally do not cause skin allergies and do not disrupt the body’s natural hormones.
- Avobenzone and mexoryl SX provide UVA and UVB protection. Look for avobenzone in 3% concentrations for the best protection.
Avoid buying sunscreens that include: oxybenzone (benzophenone-3), vitamin A (retinol or retinyl palmitate) or added insect repellant.
- Oxybenzone is a synthetic estrogen that may disrupt hormone function.
- Vitamin A, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, can speed up the development of skin tumors and lesions.
- Added insect repellant can cause sunscreen to break down faster and leave you unprotected.
Choose a sunscreen that is labeled “broad spectrum” and has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. Avoid sunscreens with SPFs higher than 50. At that level, you may be tempted to stay in the sun longer than the sunscreen can protect you. It is better to use a lower SPF (30 – 50) and reapply it more often.
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply at least every 2 hours. You should also reapply after being in the water, toweling off or sweating excessively. The FDA recommends applying one ounce (about a palm full) to all exposed skin. Your skin is your largest organ- protect it this summer with a high quality sunscreen. Contact your local CarePro pharmacy if you have questions about sunscreen this summer.