With the arrival of warmer weather, many people are spending more and more time in the sun. However, basking in the sun, especially without protecting your skin can lead to wrinkles, premature aging and, worst of all, skin cancer. Fortunately there are many options to help protect and keep your skin looking great. But, doctors and aestheticians say that while people are more aware of the sun’s harmful effects, a lot of people still do not apply sunscreen correctly or don’t apply it at all.
It is really important that people of all ages apply sunscreen daily and apply it correctly. At minimum, this means applying a generous amount of sunscreen at least 20 minutes before sun exposure, and reapplying every few hours. Sun damage is also responsible for leathery-looking skin, broken capillaries and wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, or age spots. Along with skin cancer, tanning and sun damage also contribute to premature aging. The signs of aging are often what make people change their ways.
What You Need To Know About Sun Block & Protecting Yourself from the Sun
What does UV mean?
Before you select an effective sunscreen, you should know Ultraviolet (UV) radiation that affects the skin are classified as UVA and UVB.
What is UVA?
UVA is the longest of the UV. It can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and plays a major role in skin aging and wrinkling. Recent studies show it causes the development of skin cancer. UVA penetrates glass and clouds.
What is UVB
? UVB is responsible for burning, tanning, accelerating the skin aging and also plays a key role in the development of skin cancer. UVB varies by season, location and time of day.
What is SPF?
Sun Protection factor (SPF) measures the protection provided by a sunscreen against UVB. It is defined as the ratio of how long it takes for skin to redden with sunscreen compared to without sunscreen. Although the SPF ratings found on sunscreen packages apply mainly to UVB rays, many sunscreen manufacturers include ingredients that protect the skin from some UVA rays as well. Higher SPF numbers are preferable, but don’t let an inflated number lull you into a false sense of security, especially because an SPF measures protection only from UVB – not the more dangerous UVA rays.
What is Broad Spectrum?
-- When choosing the right sunscreen select a product that provides “broad-spectrum” protection for both UVA and UVB. If you are going to the beach or pool make sure it is water-resistant and doesn’t wash off in the water. You want to have an SPF of 15 or higher.
What ingredients should my sunscreen contain? --
When choosing a sunscreen select one that contains ingredients known to filter UVA. These include Mexoryl SX, avobenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
What sunblock is best for my kids?
-- For children under 6 years of age, choose sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher.
What is the difference between a chemical and physical sublock?
There are two categories of sun sunscreens: Chemical or Physical.
The chemical sunscreens protect the skin by absorbing UV radiation. The physical block light by reflecting UV away from the skin. Chemical sunscreens contain avobenzone or a benzophenone and PABA. In rare cases these chemicals can cause skin irritation and should be avoided if you have skin allergies.
The physical sunscreens that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide do not typically cause allergic reactions. Though new technology, they are process making them more transparent without losing their ability to screen UV.
How do I apply sunscreen?
Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out into the sun to give it time to absorb into the skin. Apply it generously and regularly- about 1 ounce every 2 hours-and more often if you are swimming or perspiring. A small tube containing between 3 to 5 ounces of sunscreen might be only enough for one person during a day at the beach.
What order should I apply sun protection?
If you are using a topical medication or skin treatments such a vitamin C, that should be applied first to a clean, just washed face, followed by a moisturizer if needed, sunscreen, makeup, powder and blush.
To recap, always apply sunscreen after moisturizer and before your makeup.
Have a plastic surgery question for Dr. Dickie?
If so, e-mail us at
Dr. Kenneth Dickie is certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in Plastic Surgery.
He specializes in Cosmetic Plastic Surgery as well as Plastic, Reconstructive, and Hand Surgery.
Dr. Dickie has been in clinical practice since 1984, and is currently a member of the Canadian and American Societies of Plastic Surgery, and the Canadian and American Societies of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
For a consultation, please contact the Bahamas Institute of Plastic Surgery at (242) 351-1234or toll free (242) 300-1235