Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunscreen Tips

The summer is halfway done, but the sun is still shining strong.  For years dermatologists have advocated sunscreen year round and pushed the higher SPF (sun protection factor).  There are some changes to this thinking that everyone should be aware of.

First, almost all Americans are vitamin D deficient.  Vitamin D comes from the body manufacturing it from sunlight.  The National Institute of Health suggests 5 to 10 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am to 3 pm several times a week on the face, arms, legs and back.  After that exposure has been met, covering up and sunscreen are advised.

Second, when using sunscreen, know that a very high SPF does not provide much more protection than SPF 15.  According to Dr. Henry Lim, chairman of the department of dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, SPF 50 provides against 98% of UVB rays while a SPF 15 gives 93% protection.  Further, no product can claim 100% protection.  The sunscreen should provide UVA and UVB protection.

Third, the term waterproof is really not true for sunscreens.  The FDA is proposing guidelines using the term water-resistant and having instructions explaining the necessity for reapplication after water based activities.

Fourth, to maximize protection sunscreen should be applied liberally 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure.  Reapplication should be every 2 hours or after swimming, sweating or towel drying.

Finally, there is a typical sunscreen ingredient flagged by the Environmental Working Group called oxybenzone.  It has preliminary findings that oxybenzone has an estrogenic effect and it can be absorbed in the blood stream.  There is testing being done.

Enjoy the beautiful, warm summer, but be kind to your skin and protect it.

Stay healthy & well,

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