Prevent skin damage while enjoying the beach

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Beaches, sunshine and sand…who can resist? But we all know the cost of too much sun and too little protection – skin damage, an increased risk for squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas, and leathery, wrinkled unattractive skin as we age.

But we don’t have to give up the joy of beaching and  the relaxing effect of the sun on our skin. That’s why we have sunscreen!

Yet, it’s important to know that not all sunscreens are created equal, not all will prevent skin damage, and none will be very useful if you don’t apply enough of it.

When selecting sunscreen, read the labels carefully. The best sun screens are Broad Spectrum sunscreens that contain:

  • Zinc Oxide
  • Avobenzone or
  • Ecamsule

Two that we found we liked are:  Coppertone Sport Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 30 High performance clear continuous spray and Hawaiian tropic Sheer Touch  Lotion – the Hawiian Tropic lotion smells like a sunny beach vacation.

No matter what sunscreen you use, apply often and hit every part of your body – including those hard-to-reach spots around the armpit and, of course, be sure to have a good friend apply sunscreen on your back. Apply liberally, especially on the nose and face, and if you are fair skinned you may have to reapply more often, especially if you go into the water. Finally, no matter how much sunscreen you use, be smart and don’t spend too much time in direct sunlight.

Additional tips:

  • Use sunscreens with broad spectrum SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed.
  • Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
  • Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun; for example, long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
  • Apply the sunscreen before you go to the beach and give it time to soak in. The active ingredients of sunscreen take up to 20 minutes to become fully effective.

You may consider wearing UVSunSense wristband, which gauges the sun’s intensity and changes color when it determines it is time to reapply. These color-changing wristbands alert you when it’s time to reapply sunscreen or even seek shade. Each time during the day that you cover yourself or your child with sunscreen, just coat the UV wristband, too (available at Amazon.com).

By the way, it’s not necessarily OK to use last year’s sunscreen. Sunscreen has an expiration date because the active ingredients will start to lose their effectiveness. If it’s unopened, it’s probably still good but if it’s half used, you may want to toss it and get a new one.

Remember, the sun’s damaging rays do penetrate most clothing. If you are in the sun a lot with your clothes on, another product you may want to consider is SunGuard, a laundry treatment that will boost the fabrics’ SPF to 30.

We all know that sunburn damages the skin, but a tan – even a light tan – also is an indication of skin damage. Remember, a faint golden glow or the natural color of your skin is much healthier and more beautiful than a dark tan – and you’ll avoid a lot of problems down the road.

Enjoy your beach time and stay healthy!

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