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As spring breaks are quickly approaching, I was looking for new material to discuss the importance of using sunscreens.   It would be best if you’ve already made it a habit to use sunscreen everyday, but if not, here is a copy of a well written blog I found on http://www.mdhil.com/2011/02/shopping-sun-protection/   Mdhil has other related articles, so it is worth a visit

Before you buy a sunscreen, there are some points you should keep in mind

“Buying a sunscreen is not like buying potatoes. (It sounds like a silly analogy, but have patience, we’re going somewhere with us.) The thing is, you could always buy another bag of the tubers, but replacing burnt skin is not that easy. So be armed with some basic information before heading to shop for something as important as “sun protection”.

Block or screen?

First and foremost, you need to know that there’s a difference between “sunscreen” and “sunblock”. Sunscreens are “chemical blockers” which absorb the sun’s UV rays so they don’t reach your skin and should be applied at least 15-20 minutes prior to stepping out in the sun. On the other hand, a sunblock is a “physical blocker” which sits on the skin and reflects back the UV rays (visualise those cricketers with that white paste on their faces). Both work equally well and you can choose which one you’d like to use depending on the nature of your activity and how sensitive your skin is.

Choose according to the activity

If you are planning on some strenuous exercise or a dip under water, choose  sun protection that is water-proof, so that it stays on even when you are drenched in sweat or water.

“SPF” is the key word

Sunscreens are rated by Sun Protection Factor (SPF). SPF indicates the level of protection and should be understood clearly before you buy a sunscreen/block.

There are different ways of calculating the SPF requirement of your skin depending on your skin color, how easily you burn, if you’re around water as well the altitude you’re at.

For a general calculation, you could use this formula:
SPF  X  10 = Minutes of sun protection

For example, if you normally get burned in 10 minutes, with SPF 15 you can stay outdoors for 150 minutes without getting tanned (15 x 10 minutes).

Check the expiration date

To make sure the content is still potent and effective, check the expiration date. Throw away the tube if you’ve had it for more than a year.

Be “Broad Spectrum”

An ideal sunscreen should offer “broad spectrum protection” to save your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for one that contains Mexoryl.

Read the label

Go through the contents list carefully and buy a brand that does not contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) if you are sensitive to that ingredient.

Consider your skin type

Before buying the product, pay attention to your skin type. People with oily and acne-prone skin can go for water based options. If your skin is dry, the standard greasy ones will do.
Stay away from exaggerated campaigns

Be skeptical of claims like “all-day protection”, “natural” and “blocks all harmful rays”. All sunscreens contain chemicals and have to be reapplied every couple of hours. Also, an expensive brand doesn’t always mean better. So choose wisely.

Again, thanks to www. MDhil.com for this advice.

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2 Responses to “Buying Sunscreens for Spring Break”

  1. Laura says:

    I agree with this article in the sense that not all products are designed for all skin types. One of the best advices is to consult a specialist to get advice on which product can protect you depending on the type of skin you have. in Florida, where i live i can recommend a very good center where you can find advice from an expert, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boca-Facial-Fitness/189643917750218

  2. Mary Mills Barrow says:

    Supergoop SPF30+ is great for sensitive skin. You can also go to the Environmental Protection Group website for a listing of sunscreens for sensitive skin.

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