As a teen and into my twenties, I had a different perspective about sun tanning than I do now into my *ahem* thirties. Interesting how life is like that. That feeling of invincibility in our young years sure was exciting but as a mother of two with responsibilities (whaaaa…wha), life is different. I recently provided a webinar about sun safety to some of my clients and I thought I would share some of the highlights. Since we (at least in Wisconsin) are among the longest days of the summer here, time outside is mandatory. Which means, protecting our skin is also mandatory. Here are some answers to some of your burning – haha see what I did there?? – questions.
How much unprotected sun exposure do you need to get enough Vitamin D?
The truth is, it doesn’t take much sun exposure for the body to produce vitamin D. The limit of unprotected sun exposure is recommended for no more than 10-15 minutes of exposure to the arms, legs, abdomen and back, 2-3 times a week followed by good sun protection. That amount of exposure is all that is needed. Any more exposure isn’t a benefit and your body starts disposing it to avoid an overload of the vitamin at which point your sun exposure is giving you nothing but sun damage without any of the presumed benefit.
How does SPF protect me?
Sunscreen can be confusing, there are many options and ingredients to pick from. There are two types – UVA & UVB that can damage the skin and increase risk of skin cancer. It’s important to know that sunscreens vary in their ability to protect again UVA/UVB.
SPF is a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. SPF theoretically prevents reddening to the skin from sunlight 15 times longer – so SPF 15 would be about 5 hours if it would take 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red. Each person’s skin is different so each person should pick the SPF that makes sense for them.
What are the active ingredients in my sunscreen and how to do they protect me?
Active sunscreen ingredients fall into two main types – chemical and physical. Chemical ingredients such as avobenzone or benzophenone work by absorbing UV, reducing the penetration into the skin. Physical ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide stay on top of the skin and deflect US rays.
It essential for your sunscreen to offer broad spectrum protection. Which means it offers both UVA & UVB protection. UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper which causes wrinkles, sagging and signs of aging in the skin.
Tips to Keep in Mind:
- No sunscreen should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours with reapplication.
- Water resistant and sweat resistant indicate whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes when you are swimming or sweating. No sunscreen is fully waterproof or sweat proof. You still need to reapply often.
- Keep in mind that the dangerous days aren’t just the ones that are hot and sunny. Up to 80% of UV rays can penetrate clouds. You can really get burned on those overcast days when you’re not thinking about the sun.
- Cover up what you can. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with tightly woven or knit, dark- or bright-colored fabrics, which offer the best defense. Look for UV-absorbing clothing with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating.
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM
Steeping in Skin Health,