By Kathy Steinemann

With increasing depletion of the ozone layer, skin protection is more important than ever. The sun is a known trigger for liver spots, wrinkles, freckles, and deadly skin cancer. You absolutely must use appropriate sunscreen.

With increasing depletion of the ozone layer, skin protection is more important than ever. The sun is a known trigger for liver spots, wrinkles, freckles, and deadly skin cancer. You absolutely must use appropriate sunscreen.

Sunscreen is known by many names: suntan lotion, sun block, sun cream, tanning oil, etc. However, all products, by whatever name, are meant to provide some degree of protection from the sun's rays.

Cream, Stick, Gel, Lotion, Ointment, or Spray?

Zinc ointment, while ugly, can be applied liberally to trouble spots like nose and forehead for complete sunblock protection. There are oil-free preparations for problem skin. If you don't have sensitive skin, the choice is largely a matter of preference and SPF-science (explained below). If you opt for a spray, try to find an environmentally-friendly pump spray rather than an aerosol product.

Water Resistant or Waterproof?

Water-resistant preparations deliver protection for up to 40 minutes in water, and waterproof for up to 80 minutes. To be safe, reapply whenever you come out of the water. It takes only a short lapse in protection to produce a sunburn. If you are sweating, use 'in-water' guidelines and reapply as needed.

When to Apply

For the best protection, apply at least one-half hour (an hour is better) before sun exposure, and reapply frequently as needed throughout the day. It takes about one hour for the chemicals in sun preparations to bind with the outer layer of skin and provide maximum protection.

If you have developed a sunburn (even after all your care and attention) slather on the sunscreen, get out of the sun, and drink lots of fluids. Studies have shown that 'after sunburn' application allows for faster healing.

UVA and UVB Radiation

The sun emits two kinds of skin-damaging ultraviolet rays that make it through the earth's atmosphere: UVA and UVB. The radiation that causes the most sunburn and damage is UVB. As a rule of thumb, the radiation is greatest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., in equatorial areas, at high altitudes, and in the summer. However, snow also reflects damaging UV rays onto the skin. Likewise with clouds. Even though the sun may be covered, those rays are still there - wherever there is daylight.

UVA rays can even pass through the window glass of your car or hotel room.


SPF stands for 'sun protection factor'. Numbers may vary from a low of 2 to a high of 60. You probably know that the higher the number, the higher the protection. Generally, you can calculate the protection as follows: If you normally develop sunburn in 10 minutes without protection, and you apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15, multiply 10 minutes by 15 and you should be able to withstand 150 minutes of sun before developing a burn.

If you are sweating, if your sunscreen is diluted by swimming, or if it is wiped off by clothing, you should reapply immediately. The above formula becomes invalid. If you spend 5 minutes unprotected, you now have only 5 times 15, or 75 minutes until your skin burns.

Unfortunately, SPF only measures the degree of protection from UVB radiation. There is no way at present to measure UVA protection.

Absorption or Blocking?

Sun protection preparations work by absorbing or blocking harmful rays. Some sunscreens do both. The best results will be obtained by choosing a broad-spectrum cream. However, not all 'broad-spectrum' products will adequately protect against UVA damage. Sunscreen with avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide will guarantee a degree of UVA protection. While you read the label, ensure that you check the expiry date. Never use a product that has passed its expiration.

Cover Up - and Protect your Eyes!

Cover your head and body whenever possible, and always wear good-quality sunglasses or photo-sensitive lenses when outdoors. Wrinkled skin is something we can live with - but nobody wants to cope with damaged eyesight.


Be careful - but don't turn into a house potato. Get outside and have some fun in the sun!

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann: This article is free to publish only if this copyright notice, the byline, and the author's note below (with active links) are included.

About the Author:

Searching for a bed and breakfast, hotel, or hostel? Visit 111 Travel Directory. Trying to find some great travel tips? Surf over to 1000 Tips 4 Trips. Article source: 111 Travel Directory: (triple one dot com)

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Category: Beach Health
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