Some helpful reminders for those who absolutely live for fun in the sun.
Why should I wear a Sun Protection?
UVB and UVA rays from the sun can be damaging to the skin – if the proper sun protection isn’t worn during sun exposure, this contributes to aging, can cause unsightly skin damage…and even skin cancer.
What causes sunburn and skin damage?
Ultra-violet (UV) rays are emitted from the sun and travel to the earth in wavelengths. The UV wavelengths are very small, but they contain high levels of energy that penetrate human flesh, changing the structure of the skin cells. Some of these skin cells are assigned the job of producing melanin, which creates a brown coloring. This is how the tanning process is activated. Melanin provides varying degrees of natural protection from sun damage. Individuals with darker skin have more melanin than those with fair skin, therefore more natural protection.
UV rays are classified into 3 regions according to the frequency of their wavelengths. The wavelengths are so small they are measured in nanometers (nano=one billionth of a meter). Infrared radiation (760 – 3000 nm) can also be harmful to the skin, resulting in squamous/ basal cell carcinoma and direct skin-aging changes.
HOW DOES A SUN PROTECTION WORK?
Sunscreen products contain ingredients that help in absorbing, reflecting and/or scattering UV rays. These products are formulated to provide various levels of protection from UVA, UVB, and IR rays. The Sun Protection Factor rating system has been established by the Food and Drug Administration to measure primarily the amount of UVB sunburn protection the product will provide. No rating system has yet been established for measuring UVA protection.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) indicates how much longer an individual can be in the sun before becoming burned when using a sun protection product, than if he or she did not. For example, a fair skinned person who would normally start to burn after 10 minutes in the sun would receive 15 times that with an SPF 15 (150 minutes or 2 1/2 hours). If a person with darker skin takes longer to burn without protection, say 20 minutes, an SPF 15 would give him 300 minutes (5 hours). Reapplication using the same SPF reinforces the initial protection, but does not add time to the protection period. Application of a significantly higher SPF may extend the protection period, but should not be relied on if you suspect sunburn has begun to occur. Then it’s time to seek shade.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WEAR SUN PROTECTION?
Daily use of sun protection can significantly reduce the potential health risks associated with exposure to UV rays and can help prevent long-term damage.
UVB rays are the burning rays and are stronger during the summer months. The UVA rays that cause long-term damage to the skin are prevalent year-round. IR rays are the invisible, heat rays that affect your skin much like a heat lamp. Look for products that offer protection from all three.
Be aware of incidental sun exposure. This occurs during such routine activities as walking the dog or standing outside chatting with a neighbour.
IS THE SPF IN MY DAILY LOTION ENOUGH?
Well, a daily moisturiser with SPF is okay for the first two hours after you apply it. But if you put it on at 8 a.m. and are heading out to lunch at noon, be sure to apply more sun protection if you plan to sit outside – since you’ll be past the recommended 2-hour application period.