Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Summertime Smarts: Sunscreens

It's summertime in the Northern Hemisphere. I'm not anti-sun, and from what I can gather, a certain amount of sunshine is very healthy. But how much is enough? And when does it become unhealthy? Generally, I think a little goes a long way. Here are a few guidelines:

1) Fair skinned types can tolerate less sunlight than darker skinned people, but you can get too much no matter what your complexion is;

2) Getting sunburned is bad for anyone at any age;

3) Basking for long periods with unprotected skin to get a tan is very bad;

4) Stay away from tanning salons;

5) If you're going to be in the sun during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., use a serious sunscreen.

In selecting a sunscreen, take note of the following:

The SPF number is an indication of protection against UVB rays only. Sunscreen products labeled "broad-spectrum" protect against UVA and UVB radiation; however, there is no standard system for measuring UVA protection. So look at the ingredients. Products with an SPF of 15 or higher that contain avobenzone (Parsol 1789), zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide are likely to be effective against the entire spectrum of UVA rays. Also, check the expiration date. Most sunscreens expire within two to three years.

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