Sun damage causes immediate effects such as sunburn from UVB rays but can also cause damage which may not be immediately evident from UVA rays such wrinkles, age spots, broken capillaries, milia, and skin cancers. Even one sunburn or using a tanning bed once can dramatically increase a person’s risk of developing skin cancer. There is no safe ultraviolet light and there is no safe way to tan.
Sun Protective Clothing
Aside from avoiding the sun particularly from 10 AM to 2 PM when the sun’s rays are the strongest, the safest sun protection is wearing UV protective clothing. There are many companies that sell UV protective clothing. The degree of protection is measured in UPF rather than SPF units. Like sunscreens a UPF 30-50 is optimal. Umbrellas for the beach or at the pool are also helpful.
Sunscreens work by absorbing or reflecting the sun’s rays to protect you from damage. The SPF reflects the degree of protection against UVB rays (the burning rays). There is no accurate measure of UVA protection, but any sunscreen with broad spectrum coverage indicates it blocks against UVA. Sunscreen must be applied every 2 hours and more frequently if you are sweating or in water. An SPF 30 to 50 sunscreen is optimal. Higher SPFs do not add a significant degree of protection and tend to be much more expensive.
Sunscreens come in many forms and everyone should be able to find a sunscreen which they can use. Spray sunscreens are also a good option since they are not sticky or greasy. The best sunscreens for sensitive skin are chemical free containing only zinc and titanium. Stick sunscreens do not drip into children’s or athletes eyes which is a common complaint. Zinc containing sunscreens are best for people who tend to get dark marks on their skin when they are exposed to sunlight. Sunscreens with zinc are best for people who have rashes due to sun exposure.