Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. About 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in this country each year, meaning that 1 in 5 people will develop cancer in their lifetime. For something so prevalent among people every year, it only seems right to take steps to protect your skin.
Scientifically speaking, people who use sunscreen daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use it daily. When it comes to sunscreen, there are copious amounts of kinds to choose from. Do you pick SPF 50 or 100, spray on or lotion, water-proof or sweat-proof, with all these choices it should be no problem finding the kind that would work best for you and your skin type.
For most parents out there (specifically of younger children) spray-on sunscreen is their life saver. It is quick and easy to apply and stays on for hours. Now when we are dealing with children, this is when we break out the high SPF counts. Babies and children are extra sensitive to the sun, and protecting their skin is of utmost importance. No child should ever be exposed to the sun so much that they develop sunburn and here are a few guidelines for exactly how much is too much. For infants 0 to 6 months, they should not be in the sun at all (even if they are caked in SPF 3000 sunscreen). When they hit that 6 month mark then go ahead and apply some high SPF sunscreen, make sure that it is reapplied every 2 hours though. Toddlers and school-age children will be the hardest to get the sunscreen on and to keep it on so reapplying often is key. Also, hats and unbleached cotton clothing is cool and keeps their skin out of the reach of the sun’s harmful rays. As far as whether you should go with lotion or spray-on, it is completely the parent’s preference.
Adult skin care is a little simpler than children since we are the ones putting it on and making sure we stay out of the direct sun. Even though it may be easier, the choice of what sunscreen to choose can be kind of overwhelming. Let’s first talk about the basics and get ourselves familiar with what the different words and number really mean on that sunscreen bottle. First off, sunscreen helps protect the skin from two different types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB. Essentially the difference between UVA and UVB are the amount of damage they each cause to your skin; UVA is what causes long-term skin damage and UVB causes the less severe things such as sunburns but don’t let it fool you. UVB is as much as a contributor to skin cancer as UVA is. Who knows what SPF actually stands for? The letters SPF mean Sun Protection Factor and it is essentially telling you how much the sunscreen is going to protect you. SPF 20 means that if you have that sunscreen on, it will prevent sunburn 20 times longer than without having it on. Lastly, broad spectrum is something you see on the majority of sunscreen bottles. This just means that it protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
When choosing the sunscreen to purchase the biggest thing you want to think about is how long you are anticipating being in the sun. ALWAYS choose a sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 and make sure to grab a bottle that says broad spectrum on it. This applies for children and adults. As I said before, lotion or spray on doesn’t make a difference in the amount of protection the sunscreen provides but definitely find something that can withstand water and perspiration. Last, but certainly not least, look for the Skin Cancer Foundations Seal of Recommendation. The seal guarantees that the sunscreen meets the utmost standards for safety and effectiveness.