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Skin Care

Posted on May 10, 2013

It is officially spring!  After a long, dreary winter, sun protection is probably the last thing on your mind.  However, it should be the first thing on your mind when you are getting ready in the morning year round.  Even on cold, cloudy days up to 40 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth, which can cause some serious burns!  So, just what is ultraviolet radiation?  It is the part of the electromagnetic light spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun, and is invisible to the naked eye.  Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the longer wave that causes lasting skin damage, skin aging, and can cause skin cancer.  Ultraviolet B (UVB) is the shorter wave that causes sunburns, skin damage, and can cause skin cancer. 

The sun protection factor (SPF) is the measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB damage.  So if it takes 20 minutes for your skin to start turning red, an SPF 15 sunscreen would prevent it from reddening 15 times longer (about five hours).  SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 filters 97 percent, and SPF 50 filters 98 percent.

You might be asking what kind of sunscreen you should use.  Everyone over the age of six months should use sunscreen daily.  Several moisturizers and aftershaves have sunscreen in them, usually SPF 15.  This is sufficient for everyday use if you are not in the sun for long periods of time.  However, if you are going to the beach or spending a good amount of time outdoors, you will need a stronger, water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen.  You should apply 1 oz, which is about a shot glass full, 30 minutes prior to exposure and reapply every two hours.  It is important to reapply immediately after swimming or profuse sweating.

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