Sun Protection Factor (SPF) products are one of your best means of protecting skin from ultra violet (UV) rays which are damaging to your skin.
The damaging effect of UV sun rays
The harmful effects of UV rays on the skin are well documented. UV rays not only lead to premature aging, but place individuals at a significantly increased risk for skin cancer.
It doesn’t matter if you are planning on spending a day in the sun or your skin exposure to UV rays takes place over time, it is important to protect your skin.
As summer approaches and you prepare to go to the beach, the pool, fishing, and spending time enjoying summer weather it is important to remember the risks associated with exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
SPF sun care products are one of your best protections against the sun
Protect your skin by using SPF product appropriate to your skin type and tone. The sunscreen product you use will be determined by how fair your complexion is, how long you plan on spending in the sun, and what activities you plan on doing while you are in the sun.
SPF for fair complexions
Individuals with fair skin, which generally includes red hair and light blue or green eyes, should be especially careful in the sun. The lack of melanin in their skin makes them susceptible to sunburn and possible complications of skin cancer.
Fair complected persons, including children, should protect their skin from the sun with a product that has an SPF of 50 to 70. While the amount of skin protection does not increase much beyond SPF 30 it is best to use the most protection possible for fair skin. Also make sure the sunscreen you are using is broad spectrum, ensuring it blocks UVA rays in addition to UVB rays.
If a sunscreen doesn’t specify whether it is broad spectrum, look for ingredients in the label like zinc oxide, Mexoryl, Parsol, titanium dioxide, Oxybenzone.
SPF for light brown and olive complexions
Even if you are not prone to burning because of your darker skin complexion, it is important to use sunscreen. Exposure to UV rays, not sunburn, may lead to skin cancer.
Light brown or olive complected individuals should use an SPF of 15. You will still tan. A broad spectrum SPF simply offers your skin protection from harmful sun rays.
SPF for people of color
Many people falsely assume that people of color cannot get sunburned or develop skin cancer. While the incidence of skin cancer is much lower among people of color, exposure to UV rays can still be harmful to skin and increase the risk of skin cancer.
SPF sun lotion of 10 to 15 should be used to protect darker pigmented skin. The natural melanin in people of color will not provide protection from UV rays.
SPF for people who tan easily
Regardless of the chances of developing skin cancer later in life, there are those who want to spend time in the sun and sport a smooth, bronze tan throughout the summer. Be aware that prolonged exposure to the sun damages skin, causes premature aging, and may lead to skin cancer.
Using an SPF of 8 to 15 or more will not prevent you from tanning. In fact, it will extend the amount of time you can spend in the sun. For the best skin protection use a higher SPF with a natural bronzer to help you achieve the tan tone you desire.
SPF sunscreen necessary for swimming
Individuals who will be swimming or playing in the sand at the beach should look for a water resistant sunscreen. Even though theses sunscreens are water resistant, the sun protection should be reapplied after swimming.
It is worth more to spend money on sun protection than deal with skin cancer in the future.
SPF sunscreen for athletic sports
There are sunscreens, of varying SPF, designed specifically for athletes. These products adhere better to the skin through heavy sweat. The SPF you choose should depend on the length of time you will be in the sun and your natural skin tone. Higher SPF doesn’t necessarily protect you more, it is designed to protect you longer.
The importance of choosing and using the appropriate sun protection
The effect of skin exposure to UV rays from the sun may not show up for years to come. That is why it is important to take precautions now.
A formula for determining the SPF you need
The Skin Cancer Foundation has provided a formula which will help you determine the best sunscreen for your skin tone. The Foundation recommends you determine how long it takes your skin to turn red. SPF should extend your time in the sun times the number of your sunscreen.
For example if you turn red in 30 minutes an SPF 15 sunscreen will theoretically give you 15 times longer in the sun before you turn red.
This is a good formula for determining the sunscreen you should use, but keep in mind that exposure to UV rays over time, regardless of whether you burn, increases your chance of developing skin cancer.
For the best skin protection, choose an appropriate SPF product and reapply frequently.
How to Choose Sunscreen with the Proper SPF, Associated Content
Sunscreen, The Skin Cancer Foundation
Young, Carly, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Sun Protection, Lifescript.com
What is Melanoma Skin Cancer, Webmd.com