Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sunscreen: The How's and Why's

Good Saturday morning. I first want to say that, the reason why I have had a "hiatus" from the blog, is because this spring and summer have been EXTREMELY busy. And since I have a desk job working at a computer all day, I found it hard to come home and get right back on the computer. But, things are slowing down a tad and I enjoy sharing my random health thoughts, so I want to get back to by blogging.

I wanted to talk about sunscreen since we are in the middle of summer and it is getting hot outside. I personally have been a huge sunscreen advocate most of my adult life, because let's face it. I don't want to be leathery and wrinkle up by the time I'm 40 and look like I'm 80. Don't get me wrong, I love being out doors, basking in the warmth of the sun, camping, gardening, walking the dog, etc. But, the many years as a teenager I slathered tanning oil on and baked myself for hours, is starting to show. Lot's of freckles on my body and brown spots on my face. What do we always say, if I knew then what I know now? But yeah right, you can't talk a teenage girl out of cooking her skin!!

I did some research and read that only 1 sunburn resulting in blisters as a child increases your risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma,  as an adult by 50%.  And most of us have probably had way more than 1 bad sunburn. This is why I feel sunscreen is so important. Properly wearing sunscreen will help prevent risk for skin cancer, pre-aging of skin, wrinkles, brown spots and dilated blood vessels just to name a few things.I don't know about you, but I definitely do not want to encourage all that.

So what do you look for when buying sunscreen? Well as of December last year, the FDA has started regulating the labels on sunscreen so you can feel better about what you are buying. It has been shown that an SPF of 15 or higher is adequate. If you plan to be in the sun for many hours, do at least 30. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 blocks out 93% of UV rays, 30 blocks out 97% and 50 blocks out 98%. So even 100 SPF will not block out UV entirely. The takeaway is, you don't really need the SPF higher than 50, BUT you will most likely see me with a bottle of 70 SPF, because...well, I like to be overkill. But totally not necessary.

You want the label to say "broad spectrum" for this will block UVA and UVB rays. UVB are the rays that give us the red sunburn. But the UVA rays silently and invisibly cause damage.They penetrate deep into the skin and that's where we get the wrinkled, leathery skin. UVA causes cell damage to our epidermis which is where skin cancer is mostly found. So you don't need to burn to be at risk.

Use a generous amount and apply 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Reapply after 2 hours, no matter what SPF you are wearing. Also reapply after getting wet, sweating and/or toweling off. The highest sun exposure hours of the day are between 10-4 so be sure to wear sun screen during those hours. Also when it's cloudy outside, as 40% of UV rays make it to the earth, even when cloudy.

Now what about those people who say sunscreen is poison for our body and we shouldn't wear it? Well from what I can find, it is thought that the chemicals in sunscreen are absorbed into our skin, to our blood stream and liver. It is thought it can cause other diseases, cancers and hormone imbalances (although I could not find which ones). While, I do think this may be true, I read that it is a very slow absorption and I personally fear skin cancer a lot more. (I am a nurse, I have seen some very devastating cases.) But, to meet in the middle find a broad spectrum sun screen with zinc or titanium oxide as those are more natural ingredients and they sit on the surface of your skin and don't absorb deep into your skin therefore it doesn't make it to your blood stream.

Oh and be sure to use a sunscreen on your face and neck. I personally use a daily moisturizer, Cereve (you can get at any drugstore) that contains SPF 30 as well as my makeup has SPF in it. You want to have youthful skin for as long as possible and this will help!

I think that's it. Sorry for the long blog, but I had lots of info to share. Now go have fun in the sun, just protect your precious skin! :)

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