Don’t Forget the Sunscreen!

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Summer is here and in the Florida sunshine is shining! And that means one thing; it’s time to stock up on the sunscreen! But, as many folks know, what you want isn’t always what you get. Until now. The FDA has changed the rules on labeling sunscreen bottles to make things easier for folks to purchase exactly what they need. 


In times past you could purchase a bottle of ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen hoping for full coverage from the UVB and UVA rays. But the words ‘broad-spectrum’ can be added to any bottle regardless of whether or not the sunscreen offered the full coverage needed. Now the FDA has ruled that unless a sunscreen passes a test for blocking UVA and UVB rays they cant have the ‘broad spectrum’ label. Now, why is it important to have ‘broad spectrum’ coverage when you apply sunscreen? 

UVA and UVB Rays

We’ve all heard the warnings, overexposure to the rays of the sun can be extremely damaging to your skin. UVA rays are present all year long and can cause skin aging, wrinkles, eye damage and skin cancer. But you typically won’t get a sunburn from excessive UVA rays, though you can. UVB rays are the type of rays that are prevalent from Spring to Fall, they are the rays that cause the burn. So unless you’re covering both the UVA and the UVB rays you aren’t really protecting yourself from the damage the sun can cause!

Sunscreen basics UVA and UVB Rays

What’s the deal on SPF?

So SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. That refers to the length of time a person can stay out in the sun without getting burnt. The idea is the higher the number, the longer you can safely go between applications. There isn’t a set time limit on applications, SPF 50 doesn’t mean 50 minutes in the sun. It’s a little bit more complicated than that.

Let’s say you burn easily, 5 minutes in the sun and you’re starting to turn red. If you apply SPF 50 you should be able to stay in the sun for (5 minutes x 50 SPF = 250 minutes) or just over 4 hours! But there is a catch. Sunscreen is tested for SPF at a certain thickness, which is usually not included on the label. If you don’t apply the sunscreen to that thickness then you’re only going to get a portion of the protection. That means that if you only apply your sunscreen to a quarter of the thickness you’ll only get a quarter of the protection which means that you will burn after an hour instead of after four!

Water Resistance and Sunscreen

The terms ‘waterproof’ and ‘sweatproof’, were supposed to mean that the sunscreen could stay on your skin even in water and couldn’t be sweated off. Now sunscreen labels have to tell you how long the sunscreen is water resistant for. Most sunscreens only last from 40 to 80 minutes. It means that while most sunscreens may last for hours when you stay dry if you go for a swim you might not even get a full hour. 

Tips for Application

Here are suggestions for applying sunscreen to keep yourself from getting burnt while you enjoy the sunshine. 

  • Use enough sunscreen! – A grown adult needs about an ounce of sunscreen for complete coverage. That’s a full handful of sunscreen for complete coverage. 
  • Use it early! It takes about 15 minutes for sunscreen to absorb fully into the skin. So be sure to apply it before you are already out in the sunshine. 
  • Use it often. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours, or less depending on the water resistance and what you are going to be doing. 
  • Check the expiration date – sunscreen loses its effectiveness after about 2 years. You can tell that the sunscreen has gone bad when the lotion has started to separate in the bottle. Your best bet is to pitch anything past its expiration date. 
  • Sunscreen alone isn’t always enough. Add a hat, a shirt and always some sunglasses to the mix and you will have the protection you need to keep you safe from the sun. 

With these new tips, you’re sure to be ready for the Florida sunshine on your next Orlando vacation.

Kate is a blogger at and you can also find her writing at She has been working with Homes4uu for over 3 years!


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