Sunscreens play an integral role in taking care of our skin. In the summertime to counter the heat, many people seek relief in swimming pools, beaches, rivers, and lakes. Therefore, we need to be extra mindful to protect our skin from the sun’s damaging rays because typically we have more skin showing. So let’s begin a “Sun Care Series” by looking at sunscreen and its terminology today.
There are so many sunscreens on the market and I am not here to endorse one over the other. However, there are things to look for like SPF, broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and mineral sunscreens.
What exactly is SPF? It stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number before SPF, whether it is 30 or 50, means that in a controlled environment that is how many times longer your skin can be in the sun before it becomes damaged. So a 30 SPF enables a person theoretically to stay 30 times longer in the sun before the skin gets burned.
Interestingly the FDA is proposing to ban sunscreens labeled with a higher number than 50. They argue that there is no scientific evidence that it can protect your skin to that level. Instead, they believe it is more of a marketing strategy. Therefore they advise choosing SPFs between 30 and 50.
Since there are UVA and UVB waves, you should look for a sunscreen that is labeled, “broad spectrum.” This term means that it protects against both kinds of ultra-violet rays.
Additionally, the sunscreen should also be water-resistant. Even if you intend to stay in the boat, you can still get splashed or sweat, which will affect the efficacy of your sunscreen. Therefore, water-resistant is the best choice.
Sun blocking sunscreens contain minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They provide a barrier and do not penetrate your skin. The sun’s rays are deflected with these kinds of sunblocks. Of course, there are pros and cons with every product. A product with minerals like zinc oxide tends to work better for people with sensitive skin. Cons include you have to reapply more often and it leaves a white cast on your skin.
I use the term “theoretically” because being on the lake is not a controlled environment where these sunscreens were tested. You need to apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before going out and reapply every two hours. Of course, always check the expiration date before use.
Hopefully, the next time you head out to the lake you will protect your skin from the sun’s rays and will choose with more confidence the best sunscreen for your skin. Understanding terms like SPF and broad-spectrum are important as well as choosing water-resistant products. Regardless if you select sunscreen or sunblock, your skin will thank you for any added protection.