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|Written by Alicia B.|
|Saturday, 21 February 2009 01:19|
A little knowledge will go a long way to protect you from sunburn, skin cancer and wrinkles. Simply take precautions to protect your skin from the sun's damaging rays and get ready to play.
SPF refers to the "Sun Protection Factor" for UVB rays only. A sunscreen with a SPF of 15 will delay sunburn from occurring for 15 times longer than normal if using no protection at all. It is a measure of the amount of time it takes for sun-exposed skin to redden when exposed to the sun. For example, when using a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of 15, a person who normally sunburns in 20 minutes of midday sun exposure may tolerate 15 x 20 minutes (300 minutes) without burning. SPF's are rated typically from 1 to 60, although there are some products with an even higher rating.
Because of the various factors that impact the amount of solar radiation, SPF is a relative measure of the amount of sunburn protection provided by sunscreens. While most suggest an SPF of 15 for everyday use, the activity, time of day, time of year, and the duration should all be considered. Generally, it takes less time to be exposed to the same amount of solar energy at midday compared to early morning or late evening because the sun is more intense at midday relative to the other times. Solar intensity is also related to geographic location, with greater solar intensity occurring at lower latitudes. Because clouds absorb solar energy, solar intensity is generally greater on clear days than cloudy days.
In addition to solar intensity, there are a number of other factors that influence the amount of solar energy that a consumer is exposed to including skin type, amount of sunscreen applied, and reapplication frequency. If you're out playing in the water, or perspiring heavily, determining how long a sunscreen or sunblock remains on the skin is very important. The FDA considers a product to be water-resistant if it maintains its SPF rating for at least 40 minutes of water exposure. To secure waterproof status, the FDA states that a product must maintain its SPF rating for more than 80 minutes of exposure.
Sunscreens that are being formulated will offer an SPF range that is double what we are seeing on the shelves today and will be able to handle both UVA and UVB rays easily. Even people with sensitive skin can find highly effective sunscreen designed to be non-irritating. Don't be afraid to mix it up either. Blending a lighter or oil-free sunscreen with a sweat proof, waterproof, or rub proof sunblock could be a winning combination for everyday wear.
Also, remember that skin is not protected under clothing. SPF only applies to sunscreen creams and lotions, while UPF only applies to clothing and apparel. UPF is a measure of the amount of UV radiation that penetrates fabric or clothing. For instance, A UPF rating of 20 will allow 1/20th of the sun’s UV radiation to pass through the fabric. It means that the fabric reduces your skin’s UV radiation exposure by 20 times. Sun-protected clothing may lose its effectiveness when the clothing is worn too tightly or becomes stretched out, worn damp or wet, and/or when washed repeatedly. Also, the darker the clothing and the tighter the weave, the better. There is also a laundry additive with a blocking agent that provides a way to wash sun-protection into your clothes.
When choosing your moisturizer, why not try one formulated with SPF? It provides great sun defense, will keep your skin supple, hydrated, and will provide you with a product that pulls double-duty for your busy lifestyle. Also remember that the tops of the feet, the back of the hands, and the back of the knees are the most commonly under-protected or forgotten areas. By the way, according to the American Cancer Society, tanning lamps are another source of UV radiation. And certain medications like oral contraceptives and antibiotics may cause increased sensitivity to UVRs. Children are also at great risk for sunburn due to their thin, sensitive skin. Dermatologists recommend keeping infants out of the sun, and providing sunscreen for children six months or older; applied to areas not likely to be put into their mouths, or that can drip into their eyes. And remember that repeated exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer in later years.