Does Your Sunscreen Meet Its SPF Expectations?

Do Check The Ingredients- You may not be able to pronounce them, but you should be able to recognize these ingredients on your sunscreen.

When you consider the protective gear you need for sports, do you often stop short of fully protecting yourself? The FDA requires sunscreens place an expiration date on all products unless stability tests by the manufacturer show it lasts at least three years. "It's also valuable to understand that your behavior will have a lot to do with whether you develop skin cancer since more than 90 percent of all non-melanoma skin cancers are the result of sun exposure". The SPF number is the level of protection a sunscreen provides against the rays. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. The sun provides many benefits in the form of vitamin D and by increasing serotonin production which can give people that happy, feel good mood. Since copious amounts of sunscreen are supposed to be applied directly to the skin, this chemical could be absorbed into the skin and accumulate in the bloodstream. But, she says, consumers are not getting the protection they think they are.

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The Skin Cancer Foundation says 5.4 million cases are diagnosed annually.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to decide whether it will stop allowing sunscreen manufacturers to market their products with SPF numbers higher than 50, even though sunscreens with 90 and 100 SPF coverage often offer similar protection as those that are SPF 50, Lunder said.

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Although the sun emits various types of rays, the rays most damaging to the skin are called ultraviolet (UV) rays (2). However, UVA exposure adds up throughout a person's life without proper protection, which Lunder says is only offered through mineral-based sunscreens containing either zinc oxide or avobenzone, neither of which break down in the sun. What's curious is that outdoor workers display lower rates of skin cancer compared to indoor workers, according to a 2009 study.

When you purchase your sunscreen, look for one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The latter, though, are especially risky because they contain additions like oxybenzone and the Vitamin A-based retinyl palmitate, which are included for anti-aging benefits, but heighten the skin's sensitivity to UV rays and may speed the development of tumors. They should be sprayed into the hands and applied as a lotion would be.

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Wear a hat with a wide brim.

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