The sun is shining brightly. It’s a perfect day to head to the beach and get a healthy tan, right? Wrong! There is no such thing as a healthy tan. The discolouration we call a tan is actually a sign of skin damage.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays that turn skin dark also cause damage including premature aging and skin cancer. But you don’t have to hide in a closet to stay healthy; you just have to be careful to protect your skin from the damaging radiation.
The first step is selecting the right sunscreen. Sunscreens are rated by their ability to block radiation—called their sun protection factor, or SPF. An SPF 15 means the sunscreen gives you 15 times as much protection as your natural skin colouring. If your skin normally turns red after 20 minutes in the sun, an SPF 15 sunscreen will prevent sunburn for 15 times as long—300 minutes (5 hours).
The second step is to use the sunscreen properly. These tips can help:
- If you use a chemical sunscreen, wait at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun, because these products must be absorbed into the skin.
- Use a generous amount, and use it on all exposed areas of your skin—your ears, around your eyes, your neck, the tops of your feet, and your bald spot if you have one.
- Rub it in thoroughly.
- Read the labels carefully; some sunscreens provide protection for longer than others.
- Reapply the sunscreen periodically and after swimming or perspiring, even if it is labelled waterproof.
- Use your sunscreen all year long, even in cloudy or foggy weather.
Your Sobeys pharmacist will be happy to answer your questions about sun protection and help you select a sunscreen.