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Sunny and Safe: Picking the Right Sunscreen

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

Now that the summer is here, bringing its longer days and sunny weather, it's safe to say you're glad to head outside and soak in those rays. As a health conscious consumer, I'm sure that sunscreen is already on your list of beach bag must haves, but it's important to know that the sunscreen that you are carrying in your bag is the correct protection for you.

As you already know, sunscreens come in all different levels of SPF (Sun Protection Factor). The level of SPF in a sunscreen tells you how many UVB rays are actually reaching your skin for as long as the sunscreen lasts. For example, if you are using a lotion with an SPF 15, you are blocking out all but 6% of the UVB rays. With SPF 30 you are blocking out all but 3% of the harmful rays, and with SPF 85 all but a little less than 1% of the rays are blocked. The higher the SPF you choose the longer you have outside before your skin starts to burn. (No matter what level of SPF you choose, however, it is suggested that you reapply every 1 ½ to 2 hours.)

Once you have chosen the SPF you want in your sun protection, you'll need to check out the rays that you're being protected against. Most companies are starting to carry nothing but broad-spectrum protection, but you will still want to make sure that your sunscreen has the dual defense. Although all sunscreens protect against UVB rays, which are known for causing sunburn and eventually skin cancer after prolonged exposure, broad-spectrum sunscreens also block out harmful UVA rays, which are known for causing skin damage and wrinkles.

Lastly, you'll want to know the difference before water-resistant and waterproof sunscreen. If you are going to be in the water for any prolonged periods of time, you will need to pick out a waterproof sun-block, which usually provides up to 80 minutes of protection. Water-resistant sun-block will still protect you if you're wet or sweating, but that duration of protection is cut in half if you stay in the water any length of time.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Sunny and Safe: Picking the Right Sunscreen

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