To prevent premature aging and sun damage you need to protect yourself and your family from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Adequate sun protection can significantly decrease a person’s risk of developing skin cancer. And the earlier you adopt these habits, the more protected you will be. Sunscreen alone will not provide complete protection. You need to use a total program to reduce the sun’s harmful effects.
For Optimal Sun Protection…
• Avoid direct sun exposure, between 10am and 3pm, when the suns rays are the strongest and seek shade.
• If you have to be out in the midday sun, avoid long periods of direct sun exposure.
• Wear proper clothing outdoors: a wide-brimmed hat, a tightly knit shirt, and sunglasses. Clothing protects your skin from the suns harmful rays; the tighter the weave, the more sun protection provided. Protection drops significantly when the fabric becomes wet. A 4-inch wide circumferential brim is required to cover the entire face and neck.
• Wear a true broad-spectrum sunscreen everyday, 365 days per year, to all exposed skin. The use of sunscreen should be part of your daily morning routine.
• A broad-spectrum sunscreen is one that provides protection against UV-B (290nm – 320nm) and the entire UV-A spectrum (320nm – 400nm). A sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or greater is preferred, and the critical wavelength should be > 370nm.
• Apply sunscreen generously. The recommended application of sunscreen is 2 mg/cm2; this is the amount used for in vivo testing to measure the SPF rating. An adult should therefore apply 30 – 35 cc (approximately one ounce, a full shot glass) over the entire body surface area.
• Several studies indicate that, in reality, sunscreen application thickness more likely approximates 0.5-1.0 mg/cm2, thus lowering the effective SPF of the product. This is why appropriate application of a sunscreen is so important to its protection.
• Apply your sunscreen to dry skin approximately 15 minutes before going outdoors – this allows the sunscreen sufficient time to adhere to the skin.
• Reapply sunscreen 15 – 30 minutes after going outside to ensure adequate coverage; this helps prevent sun damage due to an inadequate first application.
• Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours, or after swimming, toweling, rubbing, or excessive perspiration. Water-resistant sunscreens work more effectively because they adhere better to the skin, and demonstrate better persistence. Carry your sunscreen with you so it’s easy to reapply.
• Apply sunscreen to all sun exposed areas of skin. Be sure to apply sunscreen to cover your nose, ears, lips, neck, shoulders, hands, and feet.
• Protect your lips, a high-risk area, with lip balm that offers sun protection of SPF 15 or higher.
• Use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
• Remember that surfaces like sand, water, and snow reflect UV rays, increasing your exposure and your risk.
• Sunscreen does not make sunbathing safe. Sunscreen does not prevent all the possible damage from the sun; even with proper application, some UV light gets through sunscreen. Therefore, sunscreen should not be used to prolong the time you spend in the sun.
• Avoid deliberate tanning. Whether from the sun, a tanning bed, or sunlamp the end result is the same: premature aging (wrinkles, mottled pigmentation, and sagging skin) as well as a 1-in-5 chance of developing skin cancer.
• Never leave children exposed to the sun without adequate protection.
• If you like the look of a tan, consider using a sunless self-tanning product. These products do not protect skin from the sun, so a sunscreen is still necessary.
• Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements.
• Unless indicated by an expiration date, the FDA requires that all sunscreens be stable at their original strength for at least three years. Thus while you can probably use the sunscreen that you bought last summer, keep in mind that if you are using the appropriate amount, a bottle/tube of sunscreen should not last you very long.
This is a Good Idea
Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. To make it easier for Australians to remember how to protect their skin, The Cancer Council Victoria coined this catchy slogan: Slip! Slop! Slap!
Maybe it can help you remember the essentials of sun protection.
Slip! Slip on a shirt.
Slop! Slop on sunscreen.
Slap! Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
Worldwide, experts agree that the Australians use of the word slop! accurately describes how sunscreen should be used. Most people do not apply enough sunscreen to help protect against harmful UV radiation. One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered by experts to be the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. So when applying sunscreen, remember to “slop! it on.”
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