With summer in full swing, people everywhere are feeling the heat in one way or the other. There are those that get too excited and welcome the sun with open (tanned) arms without thinking about the consequences of possible skin damage.
Some people, however, are thinking that they already know what to do to protect skin from the harmful rays of the sun. They would probably go, “I’ll just slather on some sunscreen and anything else that has SPF on the label when I’m outdoors and I’m all set.”
But they are wrong. Knowing those three letters doesn’t equal being smart about sun protection. Before anything else, let’s review what SPF means. SPF or sun protection factor measures the length of time a sun-screening product can let your skin be exposed in the sun without burning.
Here are a few more things you need to know to boost your SPF knowledge:
1. Evaluate the ingredient list found in your sunscreen. Some sun protection products have ingredients used to protect the skin from UVA rays, which can penetrate and damage the skin cells; others have ingredients used to protect the skin from UV rays, which can burn the skin’s surface while there are products that offer both. Choose the ones that have a dual function. You could also opt for products infused with vitamins, specifically vitamin E that helps keep the skin healthy and elastic.
2. Sunscreen and sunblock, though often used interchangeably, are not the same. Sunscreen is said to be transparent on your skin and works to absorb the UV rays. Sunblock, on the other hand, is opaque and reflects UV rays to create a shield-like barrier. This means you don’t need to apply it as often.
3. Don’t forget reapplication. SPF products must be applied at least half an hour before heading out and must be reapplied after perspiring or coming into contact with water. Studies have revealed that most people apply less than the amount of sunscreen that they need and that a product’s SPF is decreased when the application is too thin.
Even with the rise in reported incidents of skin cancer, a lot of people do not take enough care to protect themselves from sun exposure.
According to Long Beach-based dermatologist Dr. Zena Gabriel, “People are getting the message but not doing anything about it because they don’t see the effects until years later.”
He adds, “It’s like coronary artery disease is directly related to a diet high in saturated fats, but the public still enjoy foods high in animal meat.
So there you have it, sun worshippers. Check the ingredients in your SPF products first, determine if it’s sunscreen or sunblock you need and always remember to reapply them on your skin.