Choosing the Right Sunscreen

As someone who lives in a city that only has MAYBE five months of sunny summer weather, the feeling of sunshine on your skin feels foreign yet some of us can’t help but bask in all of it in an attempt to make up for the long winter.  But as much as we love the warmth on our skin, it’s important to remember to protect yourself against the harmful effects of the sun.  Over time, overexposing your skin to dangerous sun rays increases your risk of skin cancer, blotchiness, wrinkles and several other types of sun damage.  Sunscreen should be a part of your daily routine once summer rolls around.  And with so many different types on the shelves, our friends at Physiomed have put together a few things to consider when you’re choosing a sunscreen that will work for you.

The first step is to learn how sunscreen actually works.  By combining both organic and inorganic substances, that are then broken down when applied to your skin, filter the light from the sun before it reaches your skin’s surface.  There are three different wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation emitting from the sun; UV-A, UV-B and UV-C.  UV-C doesn’t even penetrate the ozone layer where UV-A goes deep within the skin causing age spots, wrinkles and can lead to skin cancer whereas UV-B is the cause of tans and sunburns.  The chemicals in sunscreen, specifically titanium oxide and zinc oxide, are used to break down the sun’s rays and turn them into harmless heat.

If you’ve purchased sunscreen before you’re probably aware of the SPF, otherwise known as Sun Protection Factor.  This number is indicative of how long you can stay in the sunlight without getting burnt.  For example, an SPF 20 sunscreen would allow you to stay 20 times longer in direct sunlight before burning.  With that being said, SPF isn’t informative of the level of protection against UV-A, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any.  Ideally, a sunscreen with a high SPF and broad spectrum, which means that it will also protect you from the damaging UV-A rays.  It’s also important to remember that everyone reacts differently to the sunlight, and each of us have a different baseline.  Darker toned people can be in the sun much longer, however, it is still important to wear sunscreen regardless of your skin type or tone.

If you find that your skin is really sensitive to the sun, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above is ideal whereas the majority of people are usually well-protected with an SPF 15.  It’s also important to remember what type of skin you have, whether it be dry, oil or sensitive, there are endless options to customize your sun protection to your skin type.  And if you’re spending the day in the sun, at the beach or just out and about, it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen every two to four hours for maximum and consistent protection.

So plan your beachy weekends, backyards BBQs and naps in the sun, just make sure you’re protecting yourself from the sun!

For more information on how you could choose the right sunscreen and other health related topics, check out Physiomed‘s weekly blog here!



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