A complete guide to sunscreen and sun protection for healthy skin

Everyone looks forward to the warm summer sun and the outdoor sports and activities that accompany it. While the UV radiation from the sun provides us with many benefits, there are important risks to keep in mind with overexposure. Here are the top sunscreen do’s and don’ts to ensure your skin stays safe this season.

1. Do choose an SPF of no lower than 30 and no higher than 50, with at least three of the following active ingredients:

  • salicylates, and/or cinnamates for UVB absorption;
  • benzophenones (such as oxybenzone) for shorter-wavelength UVA protection; and
  • avobenzone, ecamsule (Mexoryl), titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide for the remaining UVA spectrum.

2. Do choose a water-resistant sunscreen that will stay put on hot days, while playing sports, or if you spend a lot of time outdoors. These sunscreens are less likely to drip into your eyes when you sweat.

3. Do use enough. To get the full SPF of a sunscreen, you need to apply one ounce. Most people apply only one-half to one-quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. To allow ingredients to fully bind to the skin, apply 30 minutes before sun exposure.

4. Don’t forget to reapply. No sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication. It should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating during sports.

5. Don’t rely solely on a high SPF. Products with very high SPFs can create a false sense of security, prompting individuals to stay out in the sun longer and neglect other sun-protective behaviors, like seeking the shade and wearing sun-protective clothing. However, sun damage can take place without skin-reddening doses of UV radiation.

6. Do look for the new seal of recognition for proper UVA & UVB protection. When buying a sunscreen ensure that it states: UVA & UVB protection or contains the Health Canada UVA Seal.

7. Don’t expose children under the age of six months to either the sun or to sunscreen. Shade and protective clothing are the best ways to protect infants from the sun.

8. Do wear sunscreen daily, including cold or cloudy days – up to 40 per cent of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day.

For more information about Copeman Healthcare, please visit copemanhealthcare.com or contact Tia Young at 604 889 8343 or tyoung@copemanhealthcare.com.

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Copeman Healthcare Speaker Series
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March 13: Travel Health – Amra
June 19: Stress Management – Dr. Randy Mackoff

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