Don’t Forget the Sunscreen!

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By Kate K (Disneykate.com and k8ilyeverafter.com)

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. 

Sunscreen

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’ could 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, over exposure 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 sun burn 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. It refers to the length of time that the sunscreen allows 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. Its a little bit more complicated than that. Lets 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 which 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

You will most likely remember the terms ‘waterproof’ and ‘sweat proof’, both of which 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, meaning 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

Now that you know what the labels mean, here are some suggestions for how to apply 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. Thats 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 all ready 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 looses 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 to that you don’t end up burnt on your next journey out into the sun. 
  • Make sure you use more than sunscreen! sunscreen alone isn’t always enough, add a had, 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 sunscreen tips you’re sure to be ready for the Florida sunshine on your next Orlando vacation.

 

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