Dental Blog

The Five W’s of Sunscreen and Sun Protection

Monday, July 2, 2018
Healthy-Summer-Skin

It’s summer. School is out and living is easy. Before you rush outside to soak up the sun (because after all, vitamin D helps build strong teeth and bones) and take in all this season has to offer, pause for a minute to school yourself on the who, what, when, where, and why of sunscreen.

Who:

Sun protection is for everyone! Everyone should be wearing some type of sunscreen to protect their skin. Except for babies six months and younger who will have to settle for a hat or other sun protective clothing. The chemicals are too harsh for their baby-soft skin.

What:

Sunscreen is available in many different formulations: lotion, sprays, and sticks. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but one may better suit your lifestyle.

  • Lotions are more hydrating but are likely to be used up faster than a spray.
  • Sprays are easy to apply. Most people give themselves a light mist. But remember sunscreen is only effective if you rub it into the skin.
  • Stick sunscreens’ thicker formulas are optimal for water and sports activities.

When:

To be honest, you should be wearing it any time you’re outside, not matter what season it is. UVA and UVB doesn’t rest. Especially in the summer, the best practice approach to sun protection is to apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours unless you’re coming out of the water, in which case you’ll need to reapply sooner.

Where:

Sunscreen goes all over your body, not just the areas that come in direct contact with the sun. Skin that you think is protected by layers of clothing is vulnerable too. If you think you’re covered, think again. Make sure not to miss the following commonly forgotten areas:

  • Hairline
  • Ears
  • Neck
  • Back of hands
  • Feet

Why:

The sun emits two different kinds of rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are known to age skin prematurely and cause skin cancer (no thank you). UVB rays are also linked to causing skin cancer and are known as the rays that will give you a sunburn. The sun protection factor in your sunscreen will protect you from UVB rays, but not UVA. You’ll get the maximum protection out of your sunscreen when you buy one with SPF 30 or more, which protects you from 97% and upwards of UVB rays, and Broad Spectrum skin shield, which will protect you from UVA rays.

Get into a routine of wearing sunscreen and you’ll be able to enjoy the sunshine all summer long without getting burnt to a crisp.