Sunscreen Know How

Everyone knows that sunscreen prevents sunburns. What most people don’t know is how to choose the right sunscreen for their skin.

Effective this year, the FDA in the United States is imposing new regulations for all sunscreen manufacturers. These changes are aimed at clarifying misleading sunscreen labels and strive to ensure consumers are as protected as possible. Some of the changes include the type of sunscreen, a water-resistant claim accompanied by a number indicating how long protection lasts while in water, removal of all marketing claims (i.e., sweatproof, waterproof, all-day protection, etc.), a mandatory drug facts box accompanied by a statement about how often the sunscreen needs to be reapplied, and finally, a skin cancer prevention claim.

Although these changes have yet to be formally adopted in Canada, Health Canada said it is reviewing its sunscreen rules in the wake of the FDA’s move. These changes will likely find their way to Canadian store shelves in the near future.

Over the last several years, the efficacy of sunscreen has been called into question by numerous health agencies, some going as far as suggesting that sunscreen may not prevent skin cancer but actually increase the risk. While the jury is still out on these and numerous other claims, most agencies will agree that anyone over six months of age should be using sunscreen to prevent their skin from being burned.

Selecting the right sunscreen can be a challenging and confusing task, so here are a few things to consider when purchasing sunscreen for you and your family, as suggested by WebMD:

  • Ideally, you want a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays.
  • Select a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher for UVB protection. To determine which SPF to choose, take the amount of time in which you’d normally burn and multiply that number by your sunscreen’s factor number. This will give you the number of minutes you have until your skin starts to burn.
  • For children, look for kid-friendly sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher for UVB protection. Children under six months of age are advised to stay out of the sun altogether.
  • Check the expiration date.
  • Be sure to apply it properly. Most health experts suggest applying sunscreen daily to get the best results. A minimum of two tablespoons should be applied to the whole body 15-30 minutes before you go outside. Be sure to consult the label on your sunscreen to determine how often it needs to be reapplied and aim to wear it every time you go outside.

While sunscreen can prevent sunburn when used as directed, there are additional things you can do to protect you and your family from the sun’s harmful rays, including staying in the shade as much as possible, staying indoors during peak hours, and wearing sunglasses and hats.

For more tips on how to protect you and your family from the sun this summer, check out:
http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/top-sun-safety-tips/

For more information regarding the FDA’s new sunscreen regulations, click here.
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/ucm258468.htm

Additional sources:
http://dermatology.about.com/cs/skincareproducts/l/blsunscreen.htm
http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/features/whats-best-sunscreen
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/conditions/health-skin-care/uva-v-uvb-health-canada-reviewing-sunscreen-rules/article2065432/

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Ellis May 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Any sunscreen is the worst thing you can put on your body. The best thing is to go under the sun for 20 to 30 minutes and let your body produce the best vitamin D in the world. As long as you don’t let your skin any darker than pink, it is the best health for your body. To prove this theory, just look at the USA. People in the south have less cancer than the people in the north. Better yet, look at Africa, we never hear about people getting cancer there.

Glenn May 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

I think that “take the amount of time in which you’d normally burn…” should read “take the amount of time (in minutes) in which you’d normally burn…”

Mboh June 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm

(Health and Beauty) This is a great product for my seivntise skin. I cannot use chemical sunscreens on my face, those WILL sting. I can use physical sunblocks, which this product has. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide do leave a white cast, but I found it not noticeable if applied properly and given time to dry. I also have very fair skin, so anyone who has a darker skin tone will likely notice more of the whitish cast of the product. It does need time to dry , but I have no problems waiting the couple of minutes that takes. Neutrogena still makes lots of sunscreens with the chemical sunblock too, which needs to be stable to have long lasting sunscreening ability. With physical sunblocks this is not as much of an issue. As with all reviews, what works best for one does not work for another, the key is in knowing what ingredients your skin may or may not like, and going from there.

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