Sunscreens: The Naked Truth
What’s the scoop on SPF?
Unlike your favorite ice cream shop, where two scoops equals two scoops, SPF is more technical. Sometimes, you can wave a $1 tip to the teenager serving you; this way the two scoops become 2.5 scoops. If you get an intelligent teenager, your ice cream cone is bigger and more affordable.
SPF is more complicated. SPF is acronym-speak for Sun Protection Factor. Searching through the aisles of your local CVS or Walgreens for sunscreens can be confusing, to say the least. Not choosing the right one may be dangerous for you and your family. One risk factor for skin cancer is getting severe sunburn as a child or teen. I plead guilty to that; I do drag my husband and myself to the dermatologist once a year for a check–whether we want to or not.
I have personally known four people with skin cancer. Two of them died from the deadliest form: Melanoma. So, your choice of sunscreen is important.
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You may believe that the higher SPF of 100 is a potent anti-melanoma vaccine. However, with any SPF, you must reapply after swimming. When a product label says “water resistant,” that does not mean water-proof. Also, if you like to wrap yourself in a luxurious beach towel, and pat yourself dry, some of the sunscreen lands on the towel. I have never seen a towel with a bad sunscreen.
Broad Spectrum sunscreens repel both UVA and UVB rays.
UBV and UVA rays penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin. UVB is more of a villian when it comes to sunburns and skin cancer.
UVA is causes lines wrinkles and overall signs of aging skin, including sagging. A simple way to remember this is to think of it as UVAGING.
When I lived in Pennsylvania, I wore SPF 30 everyday, no matter the weather. Even on snowy days, an SPF of 30 allows only 3 percent of UVB rays to penetrate the skin. An SPF of 50 allows about 2 percent of those rays through. That may seem like a small difference–but I was steeped in the philosophy that every little bit helps.
Under ideal conditions (like in a laboratory), a sunscreen with higher SPF protection and broad-spectrum coverage offers more protection against sunburn, UVA damage and DNA damage than comparable products with lower SPF values.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60, has been rated by Consumer Reports as the number one sunscreen.
I found another one that busts my budget and perhaps yours: Skin Medica mineral sunscreen. The package touts it as useful for post-procedure—I will keep that in mind! That does interest me.
Another valuable trick is to layer your facial sunscreen with a natural mineral powder. The one that I have found useful is Bare Minerals. This is more affordable than Jane Iredale, although the Jane Iredale will certainly protect your skin from sun damage.
I looked at a few other, more affordable options, and this is the one that packs more bang in your buck.
Sprays are good for children too. Depending on the age of the child, you will be able to reach pertinent body parts by the chase-spray-chase- again method. Or, we could call this catch and release. The government uses this method with illegal immigrants.
Banana Boat makes a stick for kids, which necessitates holding them still. There are also sprays for children formulated thicker. Those stay put for a bit longer.
But, while it’s tempting to throw the kids into the hotel pool and actually RELAX for once, please remember to reapply every two hours. Apply another coat when you dust them off with a towel. Caution, you may have to bribe them with ice cream to have them stand still. Also, apply sunscreen before you go out, and pick a place without wind to reapply if you are using a spray sunscreen.