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Amp Up Your Sunscreen

by Dora Peters on 07/17/14

Summer is here! Swimming, golfing, walks in the park, gardening, baseball games, which means that it is definitely time amp up sunscreen use.  Almost every day I see people every day who are not sure if the sunscreen they use is truly effective.


Over exposure to the sun’s radiation is not only uncomfortable, it damages your skin.  The sun’s radiation is a major cause of hyperpigmentation, brown spots, wrinkles, and pre-mature aging.  More serious side effects to your body may be skin cancer, cataracts, can it also suppress the body’s immune system.

The sun emits 3 types of UV radiation, UVA, UVB, and UVC.  UVA and UVB radiation both cause serious health risks. A very short exposure helps generate Vitamin D, but can also cause sunburn.  UVA radiation is not blocked by glass.  UVC radiation is mostly blocked by the earth’s ozone layer.


Having the facts on how over exposure to the sun’s rays  damages the human body will not dissuade most people from tanning.  So here are a few tips on what to look for to help minimize the damaging effects of the sun. When purchasing sunscreen look for broad spectrum SPF which is both UVA/UBV protection.  A rule of thumb for a SPF range is 30 to 50.  An SPF 30 blocks 90% of the sun’s rays, and an SPF 50 should block 98% of the sun’s rays.  Even an SPF 100 will not block 100% of the sun’s rays.  Most people apply only 20 to 50% or the recommended amount of sunscreen to their skin,  so the sunscreen’s effectiveness is lessened.  For an average sized person, it is best to apply 1/2 teaspoon to the head;, another 1/2 teaspoon to each arm; 1/2 teaspoon to the neck; one full teaspoon to each leg; one full teaspoon  for the back; and one full teaspoon for the front of torso.  It should be applied 30 minutes prior to going outside.  It wears off, so reapply about every 2 hours, especially activities such as swimming, or during activities that make you sweat.  Zinc oxide and or  titanium dioxide are very good sources of physical sunscreen with heat reflecting properties.  These two ingredients are less likely to cause allergic reactions or inflammation, and they disperse the heat from the sun rather than absorbing it. Effective chemical ingredients in sunscreens are: oxy-, suliso-, dioxy-, and avobenzone (Parsol 1789),  ecamsule (Mexoryl)


When you purchase sunscreen avoid buying sunscreen that contains either of the following chemicals: 

Retinyl palmitate which speeds the development of skin tumors and lesions. 

Oxybenzone can  trigger allergic reactions and acts like estrogen in the body.


If your sunscreen  is expired, it is time for new, and if it is exposed to high temperatures, it may no longer be effective.


If you incur a sunburn you may like to apply a cold compress to the affected area, take anti-inflammatory medicine such as tylenol or motrin, and a apply a cooling gel like aloe vera or a 1% hydrocortisone cream.  Barrier repair cream is very effective to sooth and help heal sun compromised skin.