Happy Memorial Day, everyone!
Today is the unofficial start of summer and we often like to celebrate our country’s past, present, and future troops by relaxing by the beach or at a family cookout. Now that we are all expecting to spend more and more time outdoors, I want to share some new information with you regarding how the FDA will be requiring sunscreen products to be labeled. It’s a new and slightly more confusing process, but it will show you a whole lot more information. This way you know exactly what you are putting on your skin and the amount of protection you are actually getting!
Let’s get started!
Last year, the Environmental Working Group conducted a test on many sunscreens available over-the-counter in the United States and deemed that only about a quarter of them actually provide the amount of sun protection that they portray on their packaging.
What’s important for you to know, is that the sun protection factor, or SPF number, refers to protection from ultraviolet B rays — not UVA. That’s why people need to look for sunscreens labeled as “broad spectrum,” because those sunscreens contain at least some form of UVA protection.
While both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer and early skin aging, UVA penetrates the skin more deeply — it can even go through glass windows, such as those in a car.
Now, the FDA has ordered that sunscreen manufacturers change their labels to be more detailed on what exactly their sunscreen has to offer. While new labeling was supposed to roll-out in June 2012, manufacturers have stated that they are unable to get their information together fast enough, so the new labeling will be available in December 2012.
Now regardless of whether or not any of us will actually need a high SPF in December, there are a few things you can look out for on the current packaging that will let you know exactly what you are buying:
Tips for finding safe and effective sunscreens:
• Choose those with active ingredients zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or 3 percent avobenzone.
• Avoid oxybenzone (a hormone-disrupting chemical).
• Use creams or lotions, not sprays or powders.
• Buy sunscreens without bug spray. Bug spray should be applied separately.
• Choose sunscreens and lip balms with an SPF between 30 and 50.
To see how your sunscreen ranks, visit breakingnews.ewg.org/2012sunscreen.
Source: Environmental Working Group
The website above is really helpful if you are unsure of which sunscreen to buy. You will have to register your email address and zip code when visiting the site, but has a TON of helpful information on all brands of lotions, lip balms, and makeup.
Sunscreen should be applied every one-and-a-half to two hours for anyone out in the sun — otherwise a single application is enough coverage for a day spent mostly indoors.
Sunscreen is especially important for children, who are more sensitive to sunburns. During the average person’s lifetime, 70 percent of sun damage occurs before the age of 20!
Approximately 2 million Americans develop skin cancer each year. Melanoma — the most dangerous form of skin cancer — seems to be related to the number of sunburns a person has had.
Dermatologists recommend sunscreen as just one part of the sun protection strategy. They also suggest that people should seek out shade and wear sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing whenever possible.
And of course, too much sun exposure is proven to result in fine lines and wrinkles, along with skin discoloration. Unfortunately, the effects of a sunburn do not show immediately, but years down the road. While we can’t undo the damage we did when we were younger, we can certainly use certain products to cover or fade the visible damage once it appears on our skin. We can also start preventing any effects today! I personally wear sunscreen everyday even if I only plan on being outside for short periods of time. Since I have freckles and fair skin I am much more likely to develop skin cancer if I am not too careful.
I hope this has helped you pick out the sunscreen that is right for you. I also hope you all had a fun and safe Memorial Day!
Until next time,