Are you sure you know Why We Need Sunscreen? Is sunscreen really important for you and your family?
Why We Need Sunscreen is something you may have realized too late in life. It is one way to avoid skin cancer. But, yes there is the reason we need some sunscreen. We do need to protect our skin from too much sun. Often, too much sun turns into skin cancer.
Where is the safe spot for the sun to shine on our bare skin? Trick question, there is no safe spot for the sun to shine on your bare skin for over 15 or so minutes at a time. Will you be careful for at least 15 minutes and watch the clock to keep your skin safe? After that, protect your skin.
Sunscreen Is Important
Wikipedia says that sunscreen is a product that you apply to your skin to absorb or reflect the sun’s rays.
From all sides, we hear about how it is important to wear sunscreen and protect our skin. Let’s get down to some specific reasons why it is important to protect your skin. Sunscreen is important for helping protect your skin from the sun.
Our skin is the way we protect our bodies from ultraviolet radiation. This very same skin regulates our bodies’ temperature and helps maintain our hydration. Your skin also helps to protect you from viruses and germs that inhabit the world in which we live.
If your skin gets too much sun, and this keeps happening too often you can have patches on your skin where you will have less healthy skin. When your skin is not healthy, it can’t continue protecting you.
It will be harder to keep your body healthy when the skin isn’t keeping your temperature regulated. If you have a sunburn that makes you sick, you are in danger of other problems with your skin.
If you have weak spots on your skin that refuse to heal, you allow the possibility of viruses and infection to enter your body through these open sores.
Keeping your skin healthy is the first step to a healthy body. Yes, it is all interactive, and when your skin is no longer healthy, your body probably won’t be either.
The more you know, the more you realize why you need help beyond just sunscreens. With this realization in mind, I want to help you understand why you need to add wearing sun blocking clothing as an important part of protecting your skin. Make the sunscreen work better with some help from UPF clothing.
Sun Protection Factor
So what is this SPF thing?
This is the abbreviation for the Sun Protection Factor. This is actually the measuring factor used for our sunscreens and sunblock sticks, the sprays that we use. SPF is only measuring the protection from the Ultra Violet Rays, or the UVB rays.
A label stating SPF tells you how long you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned.
So SPF = protection from UVB rays only and informs you how long before sunburn will start. There is another part of this problem, UVA rays aren’t actually measured by SPF! An in-depth will follow in a few days for UVA rays.
How Much Is Enough Sunscreen To Apply
Another problem with this sunscreen measurement thing is the fact that you probably don’t use enough of the product as you apply it. I am sure that there is an actual measurement of how much is recommended.
However, here is where you get into some murky situations. A 5-foot tall, 100-pound adult and a 6-foot tall 180-pound adult will need different amounts to cover their skin surface. The smaller individual will be dripping if using the same amount the larger person needs.
If you have experienced sunburn in the past after applying the product, you may have not used enough to protect your skin. An estimated amount of sunscreen to apply to your skin at one time is in the neighborhood of 3 tablespoons. Obviously, an adjustment is needed for the body size you are protecting.
So already I know that in our family, we aren’t not using enough sunscreen. I am tall, 40 lbs too heavy. And I have been using about a tablespoon from top to bottom.
Trying to make the sunscreen lotion stretch! Do not waste it by using too much. I am wasting it because I am not using enough of the product! That is almost as bad as not using sunscreen at all.
No wonder we do not get the protection the product makers promised.
If I am tall, it is safe to assume that my kids are tall as well. We used a bottle of sunscreen for several outings. So yes, we definitely are in the 1/3 of the population who don’t use enough sunscreen to protect ourselves.
Sunscreen Was A New Product
We did not realize that sunscreen was that important. It is a new product for us. It took us too long to learn. So we are paying a price.
It is no wonder we have freckles, and cells that don’t have enough basic DNA to correctly regrow! We have dry skin, and our skin gets oily when we over-apply moisturizer.
However, when we do nothing it is a dry and scaly patch on our skin. Who knew what we were doing to ourselves with all the sun exposure?
SPF Of 30
A Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 seems to be the strongest and most recommended. This is the strength of SPF considered necessary but Skin Cancer.org.
However, when my sister-in-law had her last dermatologist visit the recommended number of the SPF was 50.
So not all experts agree about what strength sunscreen is needed. Next, consider the size of the body you are applying sunscreen on.
The other thing to consider is your personal risk for sunburn. Are you very fair, and need extra sunscreen? Is the natural pigment of your skin darker? It is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
You must have some information to work through how you need the sunscreen to work.
Are you light-skinned? Fair headed? Have Freckles? Red Headed? What about your family’s history of skin cancer? These are all questions you need to ask yourself. Consider the cancer risk for you and your family.
What about your sunburn risk?
How Much Are You Exposed To The Sun?
How much are you outside or in the sun every day? Do you drive back and forth to work? The tinted windows help protect you from the sun, but what about that sunroof you thought was so cool?
How about your vacation? Do you travel by car for vacations? Do you spend lots of time in your vehicle?
How do the backs of your hands look? Have you protected them from the sun? This protection is the first to get washed and rubbed away. How often do you remember to reapply?
What Part Of The World Do You Live In?
How much sun do you get in your part of the world? Daily exposure is an overlooked part of the protection of our skin from the sun and a reason for considering sun blocking clothing. In our part of the world, we have lots of sun. We love to be outside.
We have kids who are active and need to be involved in lots of outdoor activities. I have spent hours in the sun watching ball games from T-ball to soccer. Softball to high school baseball games. I loved being able to do these things.
Our girls liked softball and tennis. Our son enjoyed baseball from the beginning levels to the high school level. We spent hours in the sun watching the games.
The kids spent more hours in the sun by the time you added practice sessions. Living in the sunshine was a big part of what we did. I am grateful that volleyball and basketball were played indoors.
I am sorry to say we didn’t apply sunscreen. It just wasn’t known at that time how much repeated sun exposure was accumulating for them. As I think about all the hours of time in the sun, it is no wonder we are where we are with skin cancer.
My strawberry-blonde kids never had a chance!
Next, you must add in the hours on bicycles, and the hours just being outside. Now, the hours spent getting back and forth to these sporting events.
We lived in the country, it was 20 miles to town. You guessed it! Straight sunny highways. No shaded paths for us. The part of the world we lived in was actually a desert with scrubby bushes and lots of wind and sun.
Our car windows were not tinted. More sun exposure. What we did to our own skin as well as our children’s skin.
Then there are vacations. We are a family that loves being out on a lake waterskiing. When you live in southeastern New Mexico, there are no tree-shaded lakeside areas to enjoy.
There are big water storage lakes that are built to help farmers grow crops. Built along a river that trickles through the desert areas, as well as the fertile agriculture areas that lie along the eastern side of New Mexico.
The Pecos River can carry a great deal of water. It can almost dry up. All in one summer.
Are you beginning to get the picture? Do you see what happened because we didn’t know? Our weekends spent outdoors? Don’t let this same lack of knowledge affect your family.
People And The Way Lifestyle Affects Sun Protection
Yes, I know there will always be people who acquire the most beautiful tan in the summertime and rarely show any sign of sunburn. Even with little attention to protection for their skin. At least no damage until they reach their 40s.
This is true, some escape for reasons unknown to science. Then there are those who suffer from serious skin cancer damage with limited exposure to the sun.
Do you want to keep rolling the dice to figure out which one you are? I think I have lucked out all I can. I will be extra careful.
In Summary, SPF Explained
Let’s start with Sun Protection Factor or SPF.
Very basic for how the number of Sun Protection is for your skin. Does your bare skin start to redden in about 20 minutes of sun exposure?
A sunscreen of SPF 30 should give you 30 minutes before damage starts to occur. Remember this only works if you apply enough product!
Sunscreen does not stop the burn and sun damage. It slows it down! You can be in the sun safer. However, you will still tan and get sunburned if you are out too long.
Another little tidbit to remember is that testing is done in a lab with all conditions controlled. You don’t have so much control when in the real world with the heat, and humidity before your sunscreen becomes ineffective.
All of these factors need to be considered. Did you get in the water for a while? Of course, that means reapplying. Even with the best of conditions, your protection will weaken and you will no longer have the protection you need after two hours.
Times That Are Safe In The Sun
The next finding is that an SPF of over 50 will not help you keep from burning. Even thinking you can keep from burning after 50 minutes in the sun is not thinking rationally. I know, the product says SPF 50. So you should be good for at least 50 minutes, if not longer.
Again yes, under perfect circumstances.
However in lifetime realities, during the 50 minutes, you are exposing your skin, the product has already begun to deteriorate.
You know that you reapply every 2 hours. 50 minutes is shy one hour by ten minutes. You have lost 20 minutes of your 2 hours of protection already. So at 60 minutes + 40 minutes (60 min – the 20 minutes), you are not working with a product that is supposed to keep you completely safe for 100 minutes.
Pay attention to time in the sun. The days of being able to ignore what is happening to your skin are gone.
Skin Cancer Research
The one thing that is recommended by the skin cancer research findings is that you need to use the broad spectrum 30 SPF.
Protect your skin and help lower the chances of skin cancer for you. You may keep your skin from sunburn with an SPF product. A broad-spectrum product to shield your skin from other damaging rays will also help reduce skin cancer.
With the difficulty of keeping your skin protected with sunscreen, it is just a better move to use sun blocking clothing to help protect your skin. A sun hat, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved loose-fitting sun-blocking shirt to help protect your skin.
The early aging of our skin caused by the sun’s UVA rays can be slowed. You can stay younger looking longer by protecting your skin.
You can also help avoid autoimmune diseases. Wearing clothing to protect your skin as well as using sunscreen are the things that can keep our bodies healthier.
Sami’s Take On Why We Need Sunscreen
When you are developing better habits for skin protection and protection from the sun, consider some lifestyle habit changes. Pay attention to the sun. Don’t get out in the bright sun. Stay in between 10 AM and 4 PM.
Make sure exercise times, play times, and fun-in-the-sun times are scheduled in safer time zones. Stay in the shade. Remember to stay hydrated. Take breaks in cool shaded areas.
Do you have a theme park vacation scheduled for your family? Plan to use all shaded areas, long days in the sun that result in sunburn can make a miserable vacation for everyone.
Plan your time wisely. Don’t spend 12 or more hours in the bright sun. Don’t put yourself or your family in danger.
Wear your sun hats and sunglasses. Your sun blocking shirts. Take the time to cool down often. Sunburns are dangerous and have been the ruin of many a family trip.