How To Pick Out A Good Sunscreen
The rays of the sun are all around us, whether we feel it or not, even if it’s grey and gloomy outside. Not only do these rays bring us light and warmth, but they also contain ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is bad for our skin. Sunlight can cause sunburn, early onset of skin ageing, and even skin cancer. Thus, a good way to prevent this is to apply sunscreen, in addition to donning clothes made from UPF-rated fabrics before going outdoors.
However, to do so, there are a few considerations to be made. There is a whole myriad of sunscreen choices out in the market today and so, some of the factors to consider are the sunscreen ratings, its ingredient composition and how to apply it. While you’re at it, get the vango nevis 300 camping tent for more comfortable nights when camping.
How to Interpret Sunscreen Ratings
One of the major pieces of information to determine the effectiveness of sunscreens is by looking at its Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number. This indicates the ability of the sunscreen to prevent specific UV radiation (i.e. UVB) from causing sunburn and skin cancer and protect the skin. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the SPF, the higher percentage of UVB rays it blocks out, with SPF 100 blocking out 99% of UVB rays. However, it should be noted that while the minimum of SPF 15 is recommended by dermatologists, SPF ratings that exceed 50 means only 1% more protection and are not very meaningful. Regardless of what the SPF rating is, you should also be reapplying sunscreen every two hours.
Another rating to look out for is the broad-spectrum coverage. UV radiation includes both UVB and UVA rays, which differ in their wavelengths. While UVB rays can result in sunburn and skin cancer, UVA rays on the other hand are responsible for causing premature ageing of the skin and skin cancer as well. Hence, sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum coverage would be able to protect the skin from both types of UV radiation, and this is approximately proportional to its SPF rating, as stated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Lastly, water resistance is a useful rating as well. It indicates the amount of time the sunscreen can last in the presence of water or sweat. Do note that this does not mean that the sunscreen is “sweatproof” or “waterproof”; all sunscreen needs to be reapplied after some time, especially when you are sweating or swimming. There are two tests conducted and sunscreen can be water-resistant for 40 or 80 minutes. Additionally, using a towel to dry yourself can also remove the sunscreen hence it should be reapplied whenever you use a towel, regardless of the time left.
Looking Out for the Ingredients
The FDA constantly checks and regulates what is allowed in sunscreens and what is not. One of the banned ingredients is oxybenzone. This chemical compound is known to be harmful to the environment, especially coral reefs. However, this ingredient is very effective against UVB rays. Thus, many places place a limit on the amount of oxybenzone allowed in sunscreens. The UK isn’t one of those places, but if you care about the environment, it’s better not to use sunscreen containing oxybenzone.
Another chemical compound is Para Amino Benzoic Acid or PABA for short. This has been known to cause photosensitivity and allergic reactions in some and thus, do look out for “PABA-free” labels when finding a suitable sunscreen if you are one of those people. Parabens and fragrances are also often used in sunscreens to lengthen their shelf life and make them smell good respectively. However, there recently has been debate about the environmental impact of using parabens like Butylparaben, as well as causing other health problems Thus, many brands are increasingly marketing their sunscreens as “paraben-free”. Fragrances can also cause allergic reactions and might also sting when it touches your eyes when you swim or sweat. Hence, you might want to opt for sunscreens that are free of fragrances, and this is advisable especially for young children, or even adults who expect to do strenuous activities that cause them to sweat, or when they go swimming
Other concerns regarding sunscreen ingredients are nanoparticles. These are extremely tiny particles, which are a relatively new area of research and hence, what is known about nanoparticles are not exactly the most extensive yet. That being said, some are concerned about its ease of passing through cell membranes and thus, several sunscreens have been marketed to be “nano-free”. This is especially prominent in “organic” or “natural” sunscreens that utilize nanoparticles for a better application and such mineral sunscreens also contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
How to Apply Sunscreen
Suprisingly, it is not as easy as it seems to apply sunscreen the correct way, and more often than not, people tend to not use enough of it or put it on the correct way.
How you apply sunscreen is way more important than the type of sunscreen you choose to use. Sunscreen that is applied carefully and correctly is able to provide a higher level of protection, even if the SPF rating is lower. Generally, it is advisable to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes prior to exposing yourself to the sun, and when it comes to sunscreen, more is more. About an ounce is required for a person in T-shirt and shorts so as to ensure every inch of your exposed skin is covered. Next, as mentioned above, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. Thus, it is important that you bring along enough sunscreen for your trip. A sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher is recommended for daily use, and about SPF 30 for prolonged periods of outdoor activity.
Sunscreen is only advisable for children above the age of six months and even so, using a lotion type sunscreen is better in case of inhalation and respiratory problems. Sprays can also lead to too little sunscreen being applied.
While sunscreens generally last up to three years, it is important to still check the dates on the bottle. Always store them somewhere cold and dry.
A comprehensive UV protection requires more than just sunscreen application. These include limiting time exposed to UV radiation and wearing UPF-rated fabrics. There too are other factors that require more attention in minimizing your UV exposure. These include having a paler skin tone, applying more sunscreen on your child, taking medications that affect your body’s sun sensitivity, being in climates with strong sun rays, high UV radiation or wetter environments, as well as vulnerable areas such as the ears, nose and back of the hands and neck.