Let The Fun In The Sun Begin!

Now that summer is here to breathe rays of sunny days, it’s time to pick up your sunscreen! As we head to the store aisle to choose our sunscreen, our enthusiasm to hit the sun starts to turn into state of confusion as we stare at the inundated shelves filled with plethora of sunscreen products…and your head starts spinning. Ok, take a deep breath and remember to follow, what I call the “sun-KISS” principle (KEEP IT SUN SIMPLE!).

First, sunscreen absorbs UV rays and prevents them from penetrating your skin so make sure your sunscreen is labelled “broad spectrum” to offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Second, the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) in sunscreens refers to the ability to block out the sun’s cancer-causing ultraviolet B (UBV) rays and protect one from getting sunburn. Make sure you choose at least SPF 15 (blocking 93% of UVB rays). Although SPF 30 filters out 97%, only a slight improvement, SPF of 30 should be used for individuals with fair skin, history of skin cancer or increased sunlight sensitivity.

What about protection against UVA rays? While they do not cause sunburn, they are the nemesis for penetrating into your skin and causing wrinkles and increasing risk of skin cancer! According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that up to 90% of our skin changes associated with aging is caused by a lifetime exposure to UVA rays. This leads into the third principle: sunscreen ingredients must contain the mineral sunscreen ingredient zinc and titanium dioxide, both of which block UVA and UVB. If not, keep your money in your pocket!

Finally, while sunscreen increases your protection, no sunscreen will ever block 100% of the sun’s complete UVA & UVB rays. So use it as part of your sun protection plan along with shade, light-coloured clothing and hats, not instead of them.

– Lena Hozaima, BSc. (RN), MSc.

Community Public Health Nurse