By Dr. Elizabeth Rostan at Charlotte Skin & Laser
Long summer days are filled with opportunities to make fun memories – often in the sun. Along with those wonderful memories, significant sun damage can linger too. I can remember long days at the lake as a kid when we were outside all day long. Good times -but good times that I am now paying for with lots of sun damage from those halcyon days!
The single best thing you can do for you and your family’s skin is protect everyone from excessive sun exposure. A daily sun block of at least SPF 15 is recommended and a minimum SPF of 30 for outdoor activities. Not all sun blocks are created equal. Those containing zinc or titanium offer the best protection from UVB and UVA rays. Look for a concentration of at least 5% zinc or 2% titanium. Unfortunately these are not readily available in the local stores but they can be found online or in a doctor’s office. Examples of great, affordable sun blocks include Blue Lizard, Sun Smart, Elta MD, Vanicream and LaRoche-Posay Mineral Ultra Light.
For children under the age of 2, it is recommended to use a chemical free sun block. These are blocks that have only zinc or titanium dioxide or a combination of both as active ingredients. Blue Lizard Baby, Vanicream SPF 30 and LaRoche-Posay Mineral Ultra Light are great examples. For older children, a zinc sun block with a second active a chemical is great choice and a bit easier to use than the strictly zinc and titanium ones. Sun Smart is my personal favorite – great block, economical, ease to spread and very effective.
Be sure to apply to correct amount of sun block. Most people use far too little sunscreen. About one ounce is needed for full body application – this is approximately equal to what would fill a shot glass. Apply sun block 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply frequently if sweating or in the water. A note about spray sun screens. These contain little or no zinc or titanium and although they seem easy to apply, the spray is often uneven and there are frequently large skip areas that can lead to sunburn. I prefer that a spray be used as a reapplication after a primary application with a sun block cream or lotion.
Really the best sun protection comes from clothes designed for comfort as well as sun protection. Sun protective clothing provides a consistent SPF 50 that does not wash off and can give you and your family worry free sun protection. They are invaluable for the best sun protection.
Sun safe tips:
– Use a minimum of SPF 15 routinely and SPF 30 for outdoor activities
– Apply 1 oz (shot glass size) for full body
– Apply at least 15 minutes before sun exposure
– Seek shade and take an umbrella for long periods outdoors
– Wear a broad brimmed hat and sun protective active shirts and swim shirts
– Avoid sun exposure during the peak hours of the day – 10 am to 2 pm
– Look for sun blocks that contain zinc and titanium as actives
Enjoy the fun-filled days of summer but act now to prevent sun damage and keep your family’s skin healthy!
Charlotte Skin & Laser
130 Providence Road, Suite 100
Charlotte, NC 28207
This is super helpful. Sunscreen can be so confusing. Thanks for the great article!