It is probably not a surprise to anyone that the first and foremost way to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is to use sunscreen. Yet, most of us forget to apply it, especially on cloudy days or during the winter months.
The American Cancer Association uses a catchphrase, “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap! ®” that can help you remember some of the key steps you can take to protect yourself from UV rays:
• Slip on a shirt
• Slop on sunscreen
• Slap on a hat
• Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them
Sun Protection Tips
Some makeup and lip balms contain several chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.
Do you know about the shadow rule? If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at their strongest, and you should find shade.
Overexposure to the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) light can lead to wrinkles, brown spots, leathery skin and skin cancer and precancers like actinic keratoses (AKs). Since the sun damage accumulates over time, it is never too late to start a sun protection regimen.
Is Sunscreen Safe for the Environment?
With increasing awareness regarding the risks of sunburn, photoaging and skin cancer the use of sunscreens has increased. There are studies that are showing some sunscreens can cause damage to the environment due to the ingredients. Dermatologists will continue to emphasize the public health impact of excessive sun exposure and advise patients about proper protection practices, which include applying the appropriate sunscreens.
While there is emerging evidence that chemical sunscreen ingredients could enter the water supply and affect marine life, more research is needed to draw conclusive results. However, if you are concerned about the potential environmental effects of UV chemicals used in sunscreens, environmentally friendly sunscreens are becoming easier to find. Rub-in sunscreens (not sprays) with active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium oxide, both biodegradable, are best. Some sunscreens that say they are “reef-friendly” however still contain oxybenzone. The best rule-of-thumb is to read the ingredient list to make sure oxybenzone is not listed.
Some nature reserves and resorts are banning certain types of sunscreens. So, if you are planning a vacation, make sure you check the ingredients of your sunscreen.