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  • Dr. Michelle Aslami, PharmD.

Sunscreen 101: The Basics

With us just passing Skin Cancer Awareness month in May, today is a great day

to review the importance of sun protection!

We know sun exposure can lead to those awful wrinkles, make you look older, and leave sun spots, but outside of the cosmetic changes, it’s important to protect yourself against skin cancers, such as melanoma, which can be caused by unprotected or excessive ultraviolet (UV) exposure from the sun or indoor tanning.

Lesson number one: definitions

  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures how well a sunscreen can help prevent skin damage from UV radiation.

  • Broad spectrum sunscreen protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays which can both cause skin cancer. UVA leads to more of the cosmetic changes whereas UVB causes burns.

  • Water resistant means you’re protected for up to 40 minutes in water vs waterproof is just a marketing gimmick in this context.

Lesson number two: three easy steps to protection

  1. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses, ultraviolet protective clothing and wide-brim hats. It’s also best to stay in the shade or under umbrellas when possible.

  2. Reapply! Sunscreen should be reapplied after 2 hours or after swimming or sweating.

  3. Don’t forget the tops of your ears, feet, back of the neck and scalp. This is even more crucial for those who have short or less hair to protect the skin.

Leave us a comment with your favorite sunscreen!

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