Summer is a great season filled with hours in the sun, but its also one of the most dangerous seasons for your skin. Regardless of your skin tone, sunscreen is an invaluable tool for keeping your skin looking youthful and cancer free. Apart from staying in the shade as much as possible, here is what you need to know about protecting your skin:
For more detailed information, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation's site.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF): How Much Do I Need?
Originally it was suggested that all sunscreens have 15+ SPF, but now, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should be using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Does SPF Protect Me From Everything?
No!!! SPF applies only to UVB rays, but we now know that UVA rays can be just as damaging -- and may be even more closely associated with premature skin aging. The new FDA label regulations require manufacturers to rate their UVA protection on a scale of five stars, so make sure you look for a sunscreen that protects against both types of ultraviolet rays.
Is Water-Proof Sunscreen Better?
There's no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. New FDA guidelines will require that sunblocks change their bottles to say "water resistant 40" and "water resistant 80." The numbers connote how many minutes they are able to uphold protection after getting wet. Always, always reapply after being in the water.
How Often to Apply?
Every two hours - including putting on sunscreen 20 minutes before coming into contact with full sun. If you're using a sunscreen based with zinc, you will be ready right after you apply it, but its better to be safe than sorry.
What's Better: Sprays or Lotions?
Whatever you truly use, as long as you are thorough, is a good product, but people who use sprays are slightly more likely to miss some spots. If you're going the spray bottle route, try spraying two coats.
For very sensitive skin, you can make your own sunscreen: 3/4 cup premade lotion with good, antioxidant rich ingredients like virgin coconut, avocado or olive oil (try this) 4-1.6 oz uncoated, non-nano zinc. The amount you use is based on the level of protection you want (find it here)
How to Make:
Warm the lotion in a water bath and then add/blend in the zinc oxide in a food processor.
How to Store: How you store depends on the composition of the lotion you used. If it’s premade it probably contains preservatives, so room temp is fine. If it’s coconut oil it will last at room temp for quite awhile, but longer if stored in the fridge. Olive oil tends to go bad quicker than coconut oil, so store that in the fridge from day 1.
How Much Zinc to Add:
If you’re looking for moderate protection, measure the lotion you are going to use and then add 10% of it’s weight in zinc oxide.
For example, 8oz. (weighed) of lotion + .8oz of zinc oxide (weighed) = 10% zinc ratio