It’s Sunscreen Time! Know Your UVs and SPFs

How do you protect yourself and your family from sun damage? AFM’s Dr. Floyd Stephens has these tips:

  • We get several types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. UVB rays cause our skin to tan and turn red, but don’t penetrate very deeply. UVA rays don’t burn surface skin as much because they penetrate more deeply.
  • Both UVB and UVA rays cause DNA damage, increase the risk of skin cancer and accelerate skin aging. UVA rays, however, are particularly dangerous because they are thought to cause melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer.
  • SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It’s a measure of how long you can stay in the sun without burning with sunscreen versus without it. If your skin would normally burn in 15 minutes without sunscreen, an SPF 4 lotion would protect you for 4 x 15 minutes=1 hour.
  • Sunscreen protects you primarily against UVB rays, not against the more dangerous UVA rays. To shield yourself from UVA, wear sun-protecting fabrics or apply zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone (Parsol 1789). Also, SPF 30+ sunscreens have better broad spectrum coverage.

Don’t forget to:

  • apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply at least every 2-3 hours.
  • be generous with the amount of sunscreen you apply. The average person only applies 25-50 percent of the recommended amount.
  • avoid sun-intense times, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • wear finely-knit clothing that covers your skin, when possible.

Have fun out there!