What? You were expecting an egg recipe? HAHA. No, I want to talk about the benefits of sunscreen.

Who should use sunscreen? Anyone who spends time outdoors should use a sunscreen. This includes men, women, and children. People who tan easily and those who don’t. Fair–skinned people; people who already have tans; sunbathers, gardeners and skiers. Who did I leave out? If I left you out, shame on me. Please add yourself in.  Sunscreens are safe for children and can help prevent skin cancer from developing later in life.

What does ‘SPF’ mean??  SPF stands for sun protection factor. So, slap on a high number SPF sunscreen and I am good to go? Whoa, not so fast.

Without making you a nut-job there are two kinds of ‘rays’. There are UVA rays which mean ultraviolet A radiation and UVB rays which stands for ultraviolet B radiation.

Dr. Roopal Kundal, a dermatologist at Northwestern University says UVA rays are responsible for damaging skin cells. This leads to darkening of the skin, aging, and skin cancer because it penetrates deeper into the skin and has more influence in the collagen. UVA rays are constantly present, no matter the season or the weather. (Yes, even on a cloudy day.)

Dr. Kundal goes on to say the sun protection factor (SPF) measures a sunscreen’s ability to filter UVB rays, which are related to sunburn and most skin cancers. SPF only measures UVB rays, it doesn’t address UVA rays. (Huh.)  She says there are two ways to tell whether your sunscreen offers UVA coverage: the words “broad spectrum” or ‘UVA/UVB’.  These are the most crucial words to look for on a sunscreen label according to the doctor. Without the words “broad spectrum” or ‘UVA/UVB’ your sunscreen will not offer protection from both UVA and UVB.
Fact: Did you know UVA rays can penetrate through window glass? Yep. Even while driving.  Ekkk.

How much sunscreen should I use?  Use at least an ounce to cover your face and body. In the articles I read that is about a full shot glass or a palmful . Don’t skimp! Apply every two hours and after you go swimming (or if you perspire a lot). Reapply often even if the label says “all day protection”. Don’t forgot your lips!

Fact: You need sunscreen on a cloudy day! Yep. Be extra-diligent around sand, snow and water, which reflect rays and increase your chances of sunburn.

Wear a hat to protect your noggin. Your head pokes out the top of a visor and the sun may burn the top of your head or scalp. You will get a big owie. Or maybe that is ouchie? How about a hurtie? Cover up your head.

As an aside, many years ago my husband and I lived in Florida. We saw the effects of the sun on the beach lovers. I always said to myself, “I am not going to look like an old turtle, ever”. That was the UVA at work. The beach lovers had skin that looked leathery, had a bumpy texture, lots of wrinkles and dark spots. That had a profound effect on me. And I was young! We keep a good stash of sunscreen on hand at our house. Even in our car!

-They are many brands of sun protective clothing on the market. They do not come cheap. But they work.

-Wear sunglasses. Even on cloudy days.  Yep. They sell sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Who knew?

-Drink extra water when you are outdoors. Always a good idea anyway.

Did you ask what kind of sunscreen I use? Thought so. I use Elta MD UV Sport. Broad–Spectrum SPF 50. It contains Zinc Oxide. It is oil-free. I do not use any products that have a ‘scent’.  ‘Scents’ attract insects. (Ever wonder why bumble bees are flying around you at the pool, ocean or lake?) And…. I do not want to smell like a Pina Colada. My hubby uses Equate (Wal-Mart) Broad-Spectrum SPF 70. Non greasy. The man is 100% Irish and does not tan….ever.

We cannot live in bubble wrap but we can do the next best thing. Buy a good ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen and use it. It is not going to do you or your family any good in the wrapper or in your beach bag.