Why Wear Sunscreen?

sunscreenWhy wear sunscreen?

Despite recent claims about sunscreen safety, consumers should rest assured that sunscreen products, and specifically the ingredients oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, are safe and effective when used as directed. Claims that these ingredients are unsafe are based on questionable science that is not properly reviewed by experts in the field of photomedicine. Though using sunscreen is a vital sun safety strategy, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended a complete sun protection regimen that includes not only sunscreen use, but also seeking shade, covering up with clothing including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention – about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Furthermore, years of scientific research have provided compelling evidence that the daily use of sunscreen helps lower the risk of non-melanoma skin cancers. Most recently, in a rigorous study of more than 1,600 adults over the course of a decade, researchers determined that subjects applying sunscreen with an SPF of 16 daily reduced their risk of melanoma by 50 percent.

When shopping for sunscreen, consumers should look for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, which is awarded to sun protective products that meet stringent criteria for safety and effectiveness. The Foundation’s volunteer Photobiology Committee – dermatologists with specialized knowledge on how the sun affects skin – review test results of all products which apply for the Seal of Recommendation.  The Foundation requires that testing be done on human subjects; it is the only non-governmental organization which reviews scientific testing results for sunscreens.

Our Recommendation for the Best Natural Sunscreen is Coola.

Read About Coola and get the best natural sunscreen!

What are sunscreens?

Sunscreens are products combining several ingredients that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin, age it prematurely, and increase your risk of skin cancer.  UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other light-induced effects of aging.  Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.

What is SPF?

Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB. SPF — or Sun Protection Factor — is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer — about five hours.

Another way to look at it is in terms of percentages: SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent. They may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive, or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a difference. And as you can see, no sunscreen can block all UV rays.

No sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication. “Reddening” of the skin is a reaction to UVB rays alone and tells you little about what UVA damage you may be getting. Plenty of damage can be done without the red flag of sunburn being raised.

Who should use sunscreen?

Anyone over the age of six months should use a sunscreen daily. Even those who work inside are exposed to ultraviolet radiation for brief periods throughout the day, especially if they work near windows, which generally filter out UVB but not UVA rays.  Children under the age of six months should not be exposed to the sun, since their skin is highly sensitive to the chemical ingredients in sunscreen as well as to the sun’s rays. Shade and protective clothing are the best ways to protect infants from the sun.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

The answer depends on how much sun exposure you’re anticipating. In all cases we recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen offering protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Many after-shave lotions and moisturizers have a sunscreen (usually SPF 15 or greater) already in them, and this is sufficient for everyday activities with a few minutes here and there in the sun. However, if you work outside or spend a lot of time outdoors, you need stronger, water-resistant, beachwear-type sunscreen that holds together on your skin. The “water resistant” and “very water resistant” types are also good for hot days or while playing sports, because they’re less likely to drip into your eyes when you sweat. However, these sunscreens may not be as good for everyday wear. They are stickier, don’t go as well with makeup, and need to be reapplied every two hours.

How much sunscreen should I use and how often should I put it on?

To ensure that you get the full SPF of a sunscreen, you need to apply 1 oz – about a shot glass full. Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around one half to one quarter of an 8 oz. bottle. Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating a great deal.

Our Recommendation for the Best Natural Sunscreen is Coola.

Read About Coola get the best natural sunscreen!

27 Comments

  1. wayne

    Fantastic article on something I don’t do enough of!

    Will start using it everyday day now like the wife does..

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Good! Everyone should 🙂

      Reply
  2. Yvonne

    Hi,

    Sunscreen is a MUST for me everyday whether or not I go to the beach. It really is very important that we must protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun. The sunscreen that I’m using has a SPF of 50 PA +++. What is the texture of Nutrogena’s sunscreen like? I like that mine is very light but yet it offers good protection.

    I live in Singapore, so we get the sun everyday. Besides using sunscreen, I also carry with me an umbrella everywhere. Rain or shine 🙂

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I think it is also light, yet somewhat creamy 🙂

      Reply
  3. Josue Castillo

    Hello Matty,
    That was a very interesting post. I honestly learned so much just from this post. I always wondered if sunscreens actually worked and if what you say here is true, then I guess yes it definitely works. I think ill stop by to grab me a quick bottle of sunscreen on my way home. But anyways back on the topic, I think I real nack for writing. I think your site is great. Much luck to you.

    Reply
  4. DELJAR

    I always carry a sun protection with me every time we go to the beach for our holiday. I do not use it daily unless it’s summer. Which particular time of the day do I need to be careful being exposed to the sun? Do I have to put a sunscreen every time for me to be protected from the harmful rays of the sun?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. is the harshest. Yes, you should always wear sunscreen. When I am not vacationing, I buy lotion with an SPF so I have coverage no matter what 🙂

      Reply
  5. Cavetoad

    Leahrae, I am a fan of the simple site layout similar to yours. It is easy to navigate and links are prominent. The only suggestion I have is that you may want to put in another picture of you with not so much light in the background. We’d rather see that suntanned face of yours. LOL. Great site. Keep the light on you.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      OK, will do and thank you!

      Reply
  6. Adel

    I always carry a sun protection with me every time we go to the beach for our holiday. I do not use it daily unless it’s summer. Which particular time of the day do I need to be careful being exposed to the sun? Do I have to put a sunscreen every time for me to be protected from the harmful rays of the sun?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, you do. I buy SPF lotion for when I am just outside and not suntanning. It smells good and keeps me protected 🙂

      Reply
  7. Matilda

    Wow, this is a fabulous introduction to nearly all things about sunscreen. Great job.

    I live near beach and the sun here is particularly vicious especially in summers. Just 15 minutes of exposure under the sun during the lunchtime would make skin pain with a burning feeling.

    When working, I sit by the window, but I never thought of wearing sunscreen. Now I may think about whether I really need to apply it daily.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
  8. Chuka

    Lots of scary stories and debates about the contents of sunscreens, the merits or not of using them. Your article has quashed these rumours and backs them up with scientific evidence.

    You were silent on skin types though and I am wondering whether people who have darker hues require sun protection as much as lighter skinned.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Yes, all skin types do 🙂

      Reply
  9. Effie

    Hi there! Great article. Very informative, helpful and motivating about why wearing sunscreen. I believe too that sunscreen is extremely important, I can tell from my experience as I live in Greece which is a really sunny place. Every time I don’t wear sunscreen I get burnt. It’s much better to enjoy the sun responsibly than get burnt!

    Reply
  10. ZEGU

    Thank you for such an educative article. The fact that you pointed out its safe and effective to use certain sun creams – provided we use them as directed, is really reassuring. Also, the fact that we shouldn’t rely on using sun creams in isolation. Rather, we need to incorporate other strategies to include making the effort to cover up and seeking shade. Your article couldn’t have come at a better time as we are entering into summer. I am looking forward to taking a break in the sun in Cape Town.

    Reply
  11. Mara

    Hi there,
    I really like this article and agree it’s important to not only use sunscreen, but understand exactly what you should be looking for on the labels. There are so many products available, but not all of them have the right combination of broad spectrum and endorsement by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Having grown up in New Zealand, where the sun is pretty intense, it’s particularly true about covering up or going in the shade. Especially in the middle of the day! There has been recent publicity around a lack of Vitamin D in children in some countries that don’t have as much sun. What are your thoughts on getting a little exposure to the sun to help with strong bones?
    Mara

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Sun exposure is good for Vitamin D and you can get your Vitamin D even with sunscreen on. So put on the sunscreen and soak up the sun for the vitamin D 🙂

      Reply
  12. J-Money

    I really liked reading this article and I love the beach, I really love to travel.

    I plan to go to most of these destinations one day and I plan to wear sun screen as well.

    I really like how much emphasis you put on wearing sun screen as i know it is important especially when you lay on the beach all day in the scorching sun.

    I really liked the way you displayed your content and media.

    Reply
  13. sysay

    Every summer when I go into buy sunscreen for my son I always spend at least 20 minutes trying to figure out what Im reading. There is just pile and pile of information on the product not to mention the different brands that are offered. Thank you for breaking down how to read the sunscreen labels! it was very helpful. which sunscreen would you recommend for children during the summer that would be outside for a few hours.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I always put a 50 SPF Broad spectrum on my son no matter what. It keeps him from getting sunburn. I would recommend putting it on more than once though. Once in two hours is not enough.

      Reply
  14. Igor

    Hi!

    Over the years I have heard a lot of different explanations when to comes to the skin cancer and causes of it. I am not sure I know what is valid and what is not, but I know I need to wear some kind of protection when on vacation cause I easily get affected by sun. I live in North so maybe that is not surprising.

    Do you think that people who live in hot areas of the world are more resistant to the effects?

    Great post, thanks!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Oh, no they are not. No one is resistant because of where they live.

      Reply
  15. Ronn

    A very well-written post on sunscreen. Not to be negative,but why should I order sunscreen online when I can just go to a local store to purchase it? IMO it is a product of purchase convenience.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It is cheaper on Amazon than in the store 🙂

      Reply
  16. Xander

    Hi there,

    Really interesting article and I never thought I had to apply sunscreen every day. The factors that you point out are kind of scary and you made me very aware to the precautions I have to take. I was wondering, after applying sunscreen, do you have to wait a few minutes for it to absorb or doesn’t it absorb into the skin?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      It takes at least 15 minutes to soak in. I always apply before I head out in the sun.

      Reply

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