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The Do's and Don'ts of Sunscreen Safety

DO Choose Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or Higher

Sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher will help provide protection against ultraviolet B-rays (UVB). Although keep in mind a higher SPF doesn’t essentially mean more protection from the sun. The SPF number amounts to the length of time your skin will be protected from the sun. SPF 15 sunscreen can block 93 per cent of UVB rays while a sunscreen with SPF 30 can block 97 per cent of UVB rays, according to The Canadian Cancer Society.

DON’T Forget to Reapply

Even if you are using a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, it’s important to reapply every two hours. This is especially important if you have been swimming at the beach or sweating from an outdoor workout, which can cause the sunscreen to diminish faster.

DO Use a Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum and Water-Resistant Capabilities

road spectrum sunscreens consist of UVB and ultraviolet A-rays (UVA) protection, which can help limit the risk of skin cancer. UVB prevention can also help lessen the chance of a painful sunburn. Water-resistant sunscreen can help keep the sunscreen on you without it washing off in the water.

DON’T Use Expired Sunscreen

Before reaching to use last summer’s sunscreen, double check the expiry date. Expired sunscreen may not work as well as newer sunscreen and may irritate your skin. Sunscreens do have a shelf life of two to three years.

DO Apply a Generous Amount

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends the average adult apply two or three tablespoons of sunscreen to cover their body and a teaspoon to cover their face and neck. This is also similar to the same size as a golf ball. Applying too little sunscreen can possibly result in a sunburn. Be sure to put sunscreen on 15 minutes before you go outdoors into the sun.

DON’T Use Spray Sunscreen

A spray sunscreen may be less visible than cream and easier to apply but they most likely don’t provide a thick enough layer of protection. With a spray, you can’t be sure how much sunscreen is actually going on your body whereas with creams you can clearly see how much you are applying. Although spray sunscreen can be a good way to reapply sunscreen to your back and hard to reach areas.

DO Wear Sunscreen on Cloudy Days

While most people only wear sunscreen on sunny and hot days, it can also be used on overcast cloudy days, even in the fall and winter months if you’re participating in outdoor activities. Even if you can’t feel the scorching heat from the sun, the UV rays are still there and can pass through clouds.

DON’T Wear a Sunscreen with Dangerous Ingredients

Look for a sunscreen that is rated well by the Environmental Working Group and does not contain any dangerous ingredients such as oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor that can trigger allergic reactions and retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that can lead to the development of skin tumours and lesions. The David Suzuki Foundation also warns us of “The Dirty Dozen” chemical ingredients to avoid including parabens, phthalate, polyethylene glycol (PEG), parfum and sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate.

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The Do's and Don'ts of Sunscreen Safety

Sunscreen is a summer staple for most Canadians. It helps to protect our skin against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen also has a variety of additional benefits such as reducing the risk of skin cancer and preventing sunburns. Before slathering your skin with it, make sure you practice proper sunscreen safety with these do’s and don’ts tips.

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