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Sunscreen Safety

It's that time of year again, when the sun is at its strongest and the days are long. With summer barreling in over the last few weeks many retailers have been stocking up on the most popular of all summer items – sunscreen.

Sunscreen now comes in wide variety of levels of protection and application styles. It is even included in women's make-up these days for added skin protection. However, even though sunscreen is a mainstream product and is utilized by millions of people a year, many don't know how to tell if they are applying it properly, when to reapply, and what SPF is right for them.

Sunscreen comes in a variety of SPF’s (Sun Protection Factor). The higher the number the more protection the sunscreen will offer (i.e. an SPF of 100 offers more protection than an SPF of 30). In theory a sunscreen should protect you for up to ten hours. However, because we are active the FDA recommends reapplying every 90 minutes to 2 hours. Also, it is recommended that sunscreen always be reapplied after swimming or if engaging in activities that increase perspiration as sunscreen often washes off with moisture.

The type of sunscreen you use can also become your worst enemy. Convenient, portable and easy-to-use spray-on sunscreens are becoming more and more popular. However, studies are showing they are less effective than traditional sunscreen lotions. Studies are finding that the spray itself does not effectively penetrate the skin unless rubbed in like a traditional sunscreen, (which many people do not know to do) and many find it more difficult to apply evenly. If you prefer to use spray sunscreens, it is recommended that you spray the formula into your cupped hand and then rub it into your skin as if it was a lotion. Also, just like with traditional sunscreens, always reapply according to guidelines for proper protection.

There are also other non-sunscreen options for skin protection. For the ladies, wide brimmed summer hats are totally “in” this season. Thanks to the Royal Wedding last year and horse race season, pretty hats are back! Whether they’re made for the beach or special occasions, these hats have wide enough brims to shade most of your face from the sun. While this is not 100% UV protection, it offers a great alternative.

Many clothing retailers now offer UV protective clothing, as well. Made with a special weave, the material fibers are closer together and block out sun penetration. There are also special laundry additives you can use to make your clothing more UV absorbent. Many specialists still suggest that wearing a plain old dark colored shirt along with a hat and sunglasses offers adequate day-to-day protection for people running errands or going to work.

Whatever method of skin protection you decide to utilize this summer, be sure to go with what works for you and your daily life. A beach bum may get better use out of sunscreen, while the sit-in-the-shade individual could make do with a wide brimmed hat, pair of yoga pants and dark t-shirt. Keep up on your reapplications and always follow directions when using sunscreen on children, as their skin is especially sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays. Have a safe and happy summer!

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