Everyone loves the sun, but no one likes sunburns. A recent study of kids and sun exposure revealed that on average, we apply only 1/4 to 1/2 of the necessary amount of sunscreen required to adequately protect us from harmful UV rays. Unfortunately, many of us think of sunscreen as an afterthought, a confusing afterthought. Sorting out doses, SPF, UVA, and UVB when all you want to do is catch some rays has led to significant underuse of sun protection products. The confusion extends to other countries where different standards for rating sunscreens apply. Now a paper in the British Journal of Dermatology sorts out the confusion and makes some useful recommendations.
Here’s the latest advice for you:
- Look for a sunscreen that block both types of ultraviolet (UV) light, UVA and UVB.
- Slather a lot of it on your exposed skin evenly and often. People generally apply too little sunscreen when they use it. And what they do apply tends to pool in between skin ridges, leaving the ridges under protected.
- Buy products that contain a lot of Ecamsule and zinc oxide to get good UVA protection, something not provided by many products.
- Buy products with higher Sun Protection Factor (SPF) ratings than lower ones. SPF 60, or example, blocks more rays than SPF 30.
Watch store shelves for the appearance of improved, more robust sunscreens in the future. New products that block a wider range of skin-damaging rays and cover the skin better are in development. Until then, slather up before you go outside.
Finally, never ever use the tanning beds. Yet another piece of research proves indoor tanning is really bad for you. The skin cancer beds may be addictive – that’s right – addictive.