Sunscreen for Powerful Protection

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It has been a long winter and the summer sun is finally out to play. Sure, having a sun-kissed glow can look great (unless Edward Cullen’s look is the goal), but increased sun exposure can cause painful sunburns, speed up the skin’s aging process [1], and basically cause a major “situation.”Plus, don't forget that unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation can dramatically increase chances of melanoma (skin cancer) [2].

So what’s the best way to avoid the sizzle? Sunscreen saves the day.

SPFun - The Takeaway

To prevent sun damage, daily application of sunscreen is highly recommended. One study shows that regular use of an SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce the lifetime incidence of skin cancer by 78%! [1] And sunscreen isn’t only good for the skin- it turns out frequent sunscreen users have better attitudes, stronger social influence, and more self-efficacy [4].

Sun protection is a case where both quantity and quality matter. For ultimate defense, implement these suggested safe sunning techniques:

  1. Sunscreen should be applied to dry skin about 30 minutes before going outside, but each application typically lasts about two hours, so reapply throughout the day. (Waterproof sunscreen only lasts about 80 minutes.)
  2. Pay special attention to the face, ears, arms, and other exposed parts of the body- apply liberally for maximum protection.
  3. As a general rule of thumb, SPF 30 for the body and SPF 15 for lips are the go-to numbers for effective sun protection.
  4. Apply colored sunscreen to exposed areas of the body. (Blue may be the most effective, especially when worn with a loincloth and strings of beads.)

Although frequent and liberal application of sunscreen helps protect the skin, its use does not provide a free pass for unrestricted, intentional sun exposure. Just be sure to sun responsibly!

The Tip

Apply sunscreen frequently and liberally throughout the day to prevent sun damage and decrease chances of skin cancer.

Updated November 2011

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Works Cited

  1. Risk reduction for nonmelanoma skin cancer with childhood sunscreen use. Stern, R.S., Weinstein, M.C., Baker, S.G. Archives of Dermatology, 1986 May; 122(5): 537-545.
  2. Melanoma risk in relation to use of sunscreen or other sun protection methods. Lazovich D, Isaksson Vogel R, Berwick R, et al. Epidemiology & Community Heath, University of Minnesota, MN. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 2001 Oct 20.
  3. Risk reduction for nonmelanoma skin cancer with childhood sunscreen use. Stern, R.S., Weinstein, M.C., Baker, S.G. Archives of Dermatology, 1986 May; 122(5): 537-545.
  4. Motives of Belgian Adolescents for Using Sunscreen: The Role of Action Plans. De Vries, H., Mesters, I., Riet, J., et al. Department of Health Education, Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 2006 Jul; 15(7): 1360-1366.

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