Is it August already? Summer is just about half way over and school will be starting for the kids in just about a month. So while you are all squeezing in your summer vacations, spending time at the beach or pool, or just being outside, do not forget to apply sunscreen/sunblock. It’s great to be outdoors and all but it’s also a great idea to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The following will be a brief summary of how sunscreens and sunblocks work and some products I use/recommend.
As everyone knows, the sun emits UV rays which can harm the human skin with continued exposure for a long period of time. UVA radiation causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin. UVB radiation is responsible for producing sunburn. Ideally you want a sunscreen/sunblock that blocks both effectively.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number represents how long the product should protect you from the sun if applied properly. It is calculated by the time it takes for you to get burned multiplied by the SPF number. For example, let’s say we use a product with SPF 30. If it takes you 20 minutes to get burned, then multiply that by 30 and you get 600 minutes(10 hours). However, there are several factors that can affect this number such as intensity and wavelength.
Unfortunately SPF only measures how well UVB rays are blocked. There is no current way to measure how effectively UVA rays are blocked.
Applying a product with SPF of 50 or higher can be more harmful than you would think. SPF of 50 or higher are only marginally better at protecting you from the sun than a product of SPF 15-50. Higher SPF products lead people to believe that it offers better protection. Some may mistake this as not needing to apply as often. This is when it can be harmful to use these products.
It is recommended that sunscreen/sunblock be apply 15 minutes before exposure and reapplied about every 2 hours. Application after being in water, sweating a lot, or toweling off is also recommended.
Sunscreen vs Sunblock:
Is there a difference between the two? Technically, yes. Both may protect you from the sun but the difference lies in how they do so. Sunblocks are made of minerals(zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) and form a physical barrier to block the sun. Sunscreens are made of chemicals(octocrylene, octisalate, octinoxate, avobenzone) that absorb the sun’s UV rays. Sunblocks will block both UVA and UVB while sunscreens need a combination of chemicals to do the same. You would want to pick a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen for maximum protection.
I generally prefer lotions to apply. Some may prefer sprays. While sprays can be easier to apply, be sure to rub in after spraying. Additionally, be careful not to inhale while spraying. This is why I don’t usually recommend using a spray with infants or young children.
Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Spray SPF 50|Reef Friendly Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB|Water Resistant Continuous Spray with Oil-Free Protection|Hypoallergenic,Paraben Free,Gluten Free|SPF 50 6ozBottle
While is important to apply these lotions and sprays, please do not forget to cover up with other items as well. Hats, lip balms, sunglasses, etc. We recently purchased this hat in blue for our son to use. He loves it and it stays on pretty well because of the adjustable elastic clousure.
There are many options out there for sunblocks and sunscreens. Hopefully I have narrowed it down for you. You have to decide whether you want a product made of minerals or chemicals. Again, these are just my opinion and products I recommended or have personally used with my family. Results may vary so check with the manufacturer if you have any further questions. Other than that, go enjoy the rest of your summer and be safe!