While some sun in off-peak hours helps the body to produce vitamin D, prolonged exposure to sun (especially mid-day sun) can cause skin cancer, wrinkles and immune system problems.
Therefore, when you are heading outdoors for long periods of time, make sure you do the following:
- Limit your exposure to direct sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm.
- Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before sun exposure, to allow the UV filter transport substances to develop their full effect.
- Use sunscreens that have both UVB and UVA protection. UVB is known as the "burning" wavelengths of light and the cause of sunburns and skin cancers. UVA is known to cause deeper tissue damage and skin cancer. Until recently, most sunscreens only had UVB protection.
- Wear a minimum of SPF 15 sunscreen at all times, reapplying every two hours. The difference between SPF 15 and 30 is not significant, as SPF 15 blocks out 93 percent of UVB rays and 30 SPF sunscreen blocks out 97 percent. Facial makeup and skin creams that contain sunscreen do not provide sufficient protection.
- Apply the quantity recommended on the container. If you don't apply enough sunscreen, you won't receive full protection.
- Only use sunscreens that contain the natural minerals titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as their active ingredients. These minerals set up a barrier and block out both UVA and UVB rays completely. Sunscreens that contain chemicals may actually increase cancers because of their free-radical generating properties. Chemicals commonly used in sunscreens also can have estrogenic actions that may cause problems in sexual development and adult sexual function. Read labels carefully, and visit the Web sites called care2.com or www.skinbiology.com for more information about the dangers of chemical sunscreens.
- Wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection to protect yourself against the development of cataracts or macular degeneration.
- Buy sun-protective clothing if you can't avoid being in the mid-day sun for long periods of time on a daily basis (a normal T-shirt only has an SPF of 4).
Bastyr Dispensary carries natural sunscreens and other natural products that can help you stay healthy this summer. For more information about dispensary hours and other natural skincare products, call 206.834.4114.
Writer: Sydney Maupin, Staff Writer
Contributor: Kelly Uusitalo
Sources: www.dermadoctor.com, www.veggie-mon.org, www.Care2.com, and www.skinbiology.com.
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