By Dennis Watson
Covering up is your best defense against skin cancer but for those days you're going to be exposed to the sun, make sure you grab some sunscreen.
Have you noticed how many well known people are having surgery to remove cancer from their face? How about people you know? It is reported that there will be over a million new skin cancer cases this year alone. It doesn't have to be that way if people would just take the time to apply a generous amount of sunscreen on their exposed skin.
Let's take a look at the types of sunscreens that are available on the market today.
Types of Sunscreens
The most common and basic is clothing. A tightly woven, lightly colored material is best.
Next would be chemical sunscreens that are available in a variety of forms. They contain one or more of UV radiation-absorbing chemicals. A few of the most common chemical groups that block UVB radiation are known as PABA (p-aminobenzoic acid), PABA esters (padimate O), cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl-p-methoxycinnamate), salicylates (octylsalicylate, homosalate), and anthranilates (methyl anthranilate). That goodness for acronyms. While these all block UVB radiation, the chemical group known as benzophenone (oxybenzone and dioxybenzone) provides the best protection against both UVA and UVB radiation.
All sunscreens are assigned Sun Protection Factor (SPF) numbers by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This number refers to the sunscreen ability to block UVB radiation. Sunscreen products with SPFs of 2 to 50 are available on the market. Now here is the interesting part, a sunscreen product with a SPF of 15 will protect your skin 15 times longer from UVB than if you did not have sunscreen applied at all but a SPF 30 does not work twice as well. A sunscreen with SPF 30 will only provide another 3%. So think twice before you fork out more money expecting a lot greater protection.
It is also important that the product stand-up to the stress of prolonged exercise, sweating, and swimming. Look for the following three labeling recommendations to help you determine the the most effective sunscreen for your activity:
- Sweat-resistant: gives protection up to 30 minutes during continuous heavy perspiration
- Water-resistant: gives protection up to 40 minutes during continuous water exposure
- Waterproof: gives protection up to 80 minutes of during continuous water exposure
Remember to reapplied sunscreen after prolonged swimming or perspiring. Also remember that reapplication of a sunscreen does not further the period of protection.
I'll say it again, cover up if you plan on spending long periods of time in the sun, if at the beach or swimming make sure you use the appropriate sunscreen and reapply as needed.