NetWellness is a global, community service providing quality, unbiased health information from our partner university faculty. NetWellness is commercial-free and does not accept advertising.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Skin damage from the sun can happen no matter what time of year it is. Whether you are skiing or swimming, one of the most important ways to keep your skin safe is by wearing sunscreen.
It is now easier to protect your skin than ever before. All sunscreen lotion labels will soon get a face lift to make it easier for you to pick the right sunscreen. Next time you shop for a sunscreen, look for the new “broad spectrum” label on the package. Manufacturers have until December 2013 to make these label changes.
Broad spectrum means that a product can block UVA and UVB sun rays equally. UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer, early skin aging and sunburn. In the past, sunscreens mostly protected your skin from UVB rays that cause sunburns.
Products that are not broad spectrum will have a warning on the label saying they will not protect you against skin cancer and early skin aging. To learn more check out, “How Sunscreen Works.”
Some sunscreens have names that are misleading. Because you have to reapply sunscreen to stay safe, products can no longer say they:
|Image courtesy of US FDA|
Water or sweat resistant lotions can keep you safe when you sweat or swim. Labels on these products will now state on the label how long they can protect you before you should reapply. These products will last for either:
Try this tip when you are at the pool! Reapply water resistant sunscreen during every rest break or “adult swim.”
Everyone’s skin can benefit from sunscreen. Sunscreen that does not have a broad spectrum label will NOT protect you from skin cancer and early skin aging. These changes are only for sunscreen lotion and not spray because you put on spray sunscreens differently than lotions. For the best protection, follow these guidelines.
Use at least an SPF 15 up to an SPF 50. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor or how much sun protection a product offers. The higher the SPF value of the sunscreen, the better protection it will offer. But this is only up to SPF 50. Sunscreens with an SPF greater than 50 still work, but it is unclear if they work any better than SPF 50 lotions.
Use broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Broad spectrum SPF 15 products can protect your skin against sunburn, skin cancer and early sun aging.
If swimming or sweating, use a water or sweat resistant product. Sunscreen that is not water resistant will have a label telling you to use a water resistant product if you are sweating or swimming, but remember to reapply every 40 or 80 minutes, depending on the directions.
Read the label. All sunscreens must include “drug facts” on the label that tell you:
Spending time in the sun puts you at risk for skin damage. Use the following sun protection tips, in addition to slathering on broad spectrum SPF 15 (or higher) sunscreen, to lower your risk of skin cancer, early skin aging, and sunburn!
You can also check out Sun Safe Strategies to Prevent Skin Cancer for more tips!
If you already have sunscreen in your house, it is still safe to use. But, it may not protect you from the UVA rays that cause skin cancer and early skin aging. Sunscreen works well for up to three years. So, if your sunscreen is more than three years old or has been sitting in high temperatures, you may want to throw it out.
Points to Remember
Don’t let the sun stop you from enjoying the outdoors. Lather up at least every two hours with broad spectrum sunscreen and keep your skin healthy!
Many research studies are underway to help us learn about skin aging and protecting your skin from sun damage. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:
This article is a NetWellness exclusive.
Last Reviewed: Jul 09, 2013
Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology
Associate Professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University