Summer’s right around the corner ~ how have you been in the past about sunscreen use? Is it something you do every day all year? Or are you unconcerned with sun damage? Most of us are somewhere in between. Here are some reminders and facts to help motivate you to be conscious of your skin this summer, and to treat it with the same protection you would your head if you were riding a bike!
One great resource is the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which has released a 2013 Sunscreen Guide, for help choosing the healthiest sunscreen options. They include the methodology of their research, so you know how they arrived at their recommendations too. Some things they mention to look for when choosing sunscreen:
Choose a Broad Spectrum Formula - Avobenzone and/or Zinc Oxide are the UVA specific blocking ingredients. The sunscreen you choose can’t be broad spectrum without working to block UVA and UVB rays.
Choose SPF 50 or less – Did you know that the FDA has long contended that anything higher than SPF 50 is “inherently misleading” (in a 2007 report and in a 2011 proposal to prohibit higher than SPF 50 labeling) and other countries like Australia and Japan have capped SPF values off at 30 and 50 respectively. SPF only applies to the length of time you are protected from UVB rays anyway. And high SPF ratings mean that the formula is balanced improperly to UVB protection at the loss of UVA protection (there’s only so much that fits in a formula!)
Another way to protect yourself is to adjust your attitude about sun exposure and sunscreen use:
- Do not use sunscreen as a tool to prolong your time in the sun.
- Cover up! Hats, shirts and sunglasses are the best protection.
- Avoid sunburn!
- Do not use a tanning bed or sunbathe.
- Protect kids! Early life sunburns are worse, so keep little ones out of the hot sun.
- Pick a sunscreen with strong UVA protection.
- Don’t forget to get your Vitamin D level tested! If you are deficient, your health care professional may have tips and different expectations for your sun exposure levels.
- Examine your skin. Check your skin regularly for new moles that are tender or growing. Ask your primary care doctor how often you should see a dermatologist.
Overall, be safe this summer – incorporate a variety of sun protection techniques – you’ll still get plenty of sun even being careful! Check out these other helpful articles about summer sun, vitamin D and sunscreen use: To Sunscreen or Not to Sunscreen, That is the Question.., Balancing Summer Sun and Vitamin D Intake for Your Family