Sun Essentials: Information You Must Know!
Ah, summer!! The warm, bright, sunshine is calling you outside for swimming, picnics, vacation, or a long walk in the park. There are so many fantastic outside activities! Did you remember to protect yourself? There are several basic sun facts every person MUST know before heading into the great outdoors this summer.
- UVB radiation is the sun’s burning ray that affects the outer layer of the skin and is the primary agent responsible for sunburns. It is most intense between the hours of 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. It is also more intense in the summer months, accounting for 70% of a person’s yearly UVB dose.
- UVA radiation is the sun’s silent ray. These rays are not felt, but they are the primary cause of skin cancer and wrinkles. These highly damaging rays penetrate deep into the skin and are more intense than UVB rays. There are no variations of intensity during the day or throughout the year, and UVA rays CAN penetrate glass. UVA rays are still in full effect even if it is cloudy outside.
- A product’s SPF (sunscreen protection factor) number tells you how long you can stay in the sun before getting burned. If you can normally stay in the sun for 10 minutes before you start turning pink, an SPF 15 product will let you stay in the sun for 2.5 hours. The formula is 10 (minutes) x 15 (SPF) = 150 (minutes). A good rule of thumb is to reapply every 40 – 80 minutes, especially if swimming or perspiring.
- SPF is crucial, but it is only a measurement regarding sunburn (UVB) rays. It is dangerous for your skin not to have adequate UVA protection. Many over the counter sunscreens do not have ingredients that can provide true, full-spectrum (both UVA and UVB) coverage. In the US, there are no numbers on the sunscreen bottles to tell you about UVA protection. For that information, you must check the active ingredient list. If your sunscreen does not contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789), Mexoryl SX, or Cell-ox Shield, you are not applying adequate UVA protection, and that is very damaging to your skin.
- FYI: an SPF of 2 blocks about 50% of UVB rays; an SPF of 10 blocks about 85% of UVB rays; an SPF of 15 blocks about 95% of UVB rays; and an SPF of 30 stops about 97%. An SPF higher than 30 does not provide any more UVB protection, it just offers more time you can stay in the sun without burning.
- As a general rule, it is best to apply sunscreen liberally about 20 minutes before sun exposure, in order to give the sunscreen time to absorb.
With this information, you are now able to head outdoors and provide yourself with high-level UVA and UVB protection. Because of the intense damaging effects that the UVA rays have, you may even want to consider year-round protection, especially for your face! If you have questions about your sunscreen’s active ingredients or need to purchase a sunscreen with full- spectrum, active ingredients as stated above, please contact Pellé Medical Skincare at (513) 272-0064.