Posts Tagged ‘UVB’

Sunscreen made simple

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

fun in the sunThe time has come again – to stand in front of the sunscreen aisle in search of the best bottle of protection for you and your family. The rows are filled with different brands, SPF numbers and descriptions – how are you supposed to find the best one? We’ve made it simple with our list of dos and don’ts.


  • Buy a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
  • Only use products that have UVA and UVB protection, also called Broad Spectrum protection.
  • Apply sunscreen on dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every 2 hours. Choose a bottle that is “water resistant” (effective for up to 40 minutes in water) or “very water resistant” (effective for up to 80 minutes in water) if you are going swimming.
  • Apply sunscreen every day you are outside, but especially if you are near water or sand as your risk of sunburn increases due to the reflection of the sun.
  • Generously apply sunscreen to all skin that is not covered by clothing. One ounce, the size of a shot glass, is the amount needed to cover exposed areas of your body.
  • If you or your child has sensitive skin, use a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these products maintain their protection without being absorbed by the skin, causing less irritation.
  • For an extra layer of protection, wear a rash guard (a shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester worn in the water to protect against sun and rash).


Don’t use products that combine bug repellant with sunscreen. You need to reapply sunscreen often, but you don’t need to apply bug spray as much – the combo from excess bug repellant could cause toxic exposure.

Don’t choose a product with retinyl palmitate, especially if you are pregnant. This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with birth defects.

Don’t use a sunscreen that has passed its expiration date. If your sunscreen does not have a date, write one on your bottle after purchasing. Sunscreens retain their original strength for three years.

For more information on how to select a sunscreen, visit here.

Have tips to keep you and your little one safe in the sun this summer? Share what has worked for you.

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Sunscreen safety for pregnant women

Friday, June 6th, 2014

mom and child in sunSummer is here! Sunscreen is important whenever you are outside, especially if you are pregnant. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

There are two types of rays that can cause skin damage. These are ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation (UVA and UVB). Both of these can cause premature aging and skin cancer however UVB rays are what cause sunburn. It is important to choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. But, choosing the right sunscreen to slather on can be confusing.

Here are tips on choosing the right sunscreen for you:

•    Avoid retinyl palmitate This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with a risk of birth defects.
•    Choose sunscreen with a sun protected factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
•    Only use products that have UVA and UVB protection – also called Broad Spectrum protection
•    Use a water resistant sunscreen if you intend to go swimming
•    Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating (even if you use water resistant sunscreen).
•    Limit your time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun rays are most intense.

Combination products

To fend off those pesky mosquitoes, there are also combination sunscreen products that include bug spray. These can be  great two-for-one products, but combination sunscreens may be more hazardous that you thought. A combination product has the possibility of toxic exposure, due to overdosing on the bug repellant. It’s safe to apply the combination lotion first, but when it’s time to reapply, skip the combination and just use sunscreen.

Read our post for specific tips on how to keep your baby safe in the sun.

Have fun outside this summer, but wear your hat, sunglasses, stay well hydrated and remember your sunscreen!

Sunscreen labels to be simpler

Monday, August 1st, 2011

sunburned-ladyWe’ve all heard the warnings about getting too much sun, and how you should use sunscreen.  So, in preparation for my family summer vacation, I went to my local pharmacy to pick up a bottle or two.  I was bombarded by so many varieties that I stood there for nearly 20 minutes trying to figure out what to buy. In addition to the many levels of SPF, there were many descriptions to consider, such as “water resistant,” “waterproof,” “sweat resistant,” “ultra sweatproof”, etc.  Yikes! It was such an overload of information that even I was stunned by it (and I like this sort of geeky, health care kind of stuff!).

So, I decided to do a little bit of research to try to get to the “bottom line.” It was then that I found out that last month the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed the labeling rules to make them more simple. (Please see their press release and this Medscape article for more info.) Manufacturers will have about a year to change their labels.

In the meantime, here is a short lesson on sunburn jargon…

There are two types of rays that cause skin damage – ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB). Both can cause premature aging and skin cancer, however, UVB rays are what cause sunburn. In order to be adequately protected, you need a sunscreen that protects against both kinds of rays.  With the new rules, manufacturers may only label a sunscreen as “broad-spectrum” if it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

SPF ratings refer to the protection factor from sunburn rays (UVB) and don’t protect you from the UVA rays – the higher the number, the more protection against sunburn. Think of it as your skin needing a thicker coating of the lotion in order to be sure that you don’t burn. You should use an SPF of at least 15. Anything less than that does not provide adequate protection. Under the new rules, the FDA is considering limiting SPF numbers to 50, as they do not see a substantial increase in protection with SPF numbers higher than 50.

The FDA will no longer allow the terms “sunblock,” “waterproof” and “sweatproof” (yeah!!!)  The term “water resistant” will be allowed if a manufacturer documents that their product keeps working even after you go in water for 40 minutes or 80 minutes. Hence, you’ll see the term “water resistant- 40 minutes” and “water resistant- 80 minutes.”  This labeling will be helpful in protecting kids who love to swim.

So, until the labeling changes go into effect, to protect your skin from sunburn, cancer and premature aging, here is the bottom line:
• only use products that specify “UVA and UVB” protection, with a SPF rating higher than 15;
• use a “water resistant” product if you intend to go swimming;
• reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, (even if you use “water resistant” sunscreen).

And remember to limit time in the sun, wear cover-ups and hats, and drink plenty of water.