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Sunscreens and Sun Protection Products

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Chemical sunscreens are the most commonly used and are available in a variety of moisturizers that protect against ultra-violet light. Moisturizers come in several forms — ointments, creams/gels, and lotions. Ointments are mixtures of water in oil, usually either lanolin or petrolatum. Creams are preparations of oil in water, which is the main ingredient. Creams must be applied more often than ointments to be most effective. Lotions contain powder crystals dissolved in water, again the main ingredient. Because of their high water content, they feel cool on the skin and don’t leave the skin feeling greasy. Although they are easy to apply and may be more pleasing than ointments and creams, lotions don’t have the same protective qualities. You may need to apply them frequently to relieve the signs and symptoms of dryness. They contain one or more of the UV radiation-absorbing chemicals. Some of the most widely used chemical groups that block UVB radiation are PABA (p-aminobenzoic acid), PABA esters (padimate O), cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl-p-methoxycinnamate), salicylates (octylsalicylate, homosalate), and anthranilates (methyl anthranilate). While these all block UVB radiation, the chemical group known as benzophenone (oxybenzone and dioxybenzone) provides protection against both UVA and UVB radiation. UVA is the most difficult to protect against.

Dangers of The Sun

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ummer weather brings many people outdoors to bask in the sun's warmth, for the Sunlight helps our bodies create vitamin D. However, spending time in the sun without the right protection exposes the skin to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The UV radiation spectrum is divided into three bands: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Little UVC radiation reaches the earth because it is filtered out by the ozone layer. UVB radiation is the principal cause of sunburn reactions and is the wavelength band that is mostly associated with inducing skin cancer. UVA radiation is responsible for causing a slow natural tan to develop and may also contribute to the cancer-causing potential of UVB radiation. Sun exposure can cause both acute and chronic injury to the skin. It is well documented that long-term sun exposure, with or without sunburn, can cause harmful effects. Sunscreen lotions are more effective in protecting against shorter ultraviolet wavelengths (UVB) than against longer wavelengths (UVA).

Sun Bathing Tips

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A water resistant sunscreen lotion will help protect your skin from the harmful UV rays. Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin at least 20 to 30 minutes before going out for the beach. Also reapply the sunscreen after swimming or excessive perspiration. Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, even if it's cloudy or you don't plan on spending a lot of time outdoors. If you sweat a lot or go swimming, reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours (even if the bottle says the sunscreen is waterproof).