What if I told you that there is a certain type of cancer that was 100 percent preventable? Now, what if I told you that this “preventive” medicine was available to all of us at a relatively low cost? I’m sure you would say “Sign me up!”
So what is this mythical, easy to use, available to all cure? Sunscreen!
Also known as SPF, this grossly underused product can be a literal life saver. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed in their lifetime. That is 20% of our population, and it looks like those stats are going up. Another scary statistic, is the increasing rate of Melanoma diagnoses.
There are many dangers of sun exposure, but I want to focus on easy prevention and the most commonly misunderstood SPF facts.
First, what is SPF? The acronym for Sun Protection Factor, deals with the amount of time that you can stay in the sun, without burning. For example, I am very fair skinned and without a sunscreen, would begin seeing reddened skin within 5-7 minutes. If i apply an SPF 30, 30 X 5= 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours. Based on this information, I know that I need to apply more sunscreen every 2.5 hours to avoid getting burned.
Some say, “I am darker skinned and use an SPF 100, so I will only apply it once a day!” Numerous studies have shown, that SPF, regardless of it’s intensity rating, breaks down after about 2 hours. Due to the direct heat of the sun, swimming, sweating, and friction from clothing, the effectiveness of your sunscreen decreases while going about your regular activities. With this in mind, the FDA strongly recommends reapplying your sunscreen every 2 hours, regardless of SPF rating or your skin tone.
Another common misconception is the, ‘but I use waterproof/sweatproof sunscreen!’ argument. The FDA has cracked down on all major SPF manufacturers in the United States.
As of June 14, 2011, manufacturers are no longer permitted to use the terms “waterproof” or “sweatproof” on their products. It has been replaced by “water resistant,” and even those products are now required to label if they are effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming.
So, what are the best things to keep in mind while enjoying warmer weather, and trying to keep yourself and your family safe?
Apply a generous amount of SPF 30-50 at least 20 minutes before heading outdoors.
Be sure to reapply your SPF every 2 hours or after swimming or extreme activity.
Wear protective clothing, such as SPF rated shirts and hats while outside.
Be certain to coat or cover all exposed skin, such as your ears, lips, the top of your head, and your feet if wearing sandals.
Stay safe in the sun now, prevent cancer later!
Tarrah Bouts is a licensed esthetician and the owner of Amelia Gray Skincare & Cosmetics. Tarrah can be reached at 740- 353-3255.