The message has been loud and clear: lather up with sunscreen before you hit the beach, the park or anywhere the sun shines.
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Ways to protect yourself from the sun
Lather up — Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to the entire body, 30 minutes prior to going outdoors; reapply every 2 hours or after excessive sweating or swimming. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 90 minutes or according to directions.
Clothe up — Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection. Sun-protective clothing with a UPF rating of 50 or higher provides protection, as well.
Minimize sun exposure — Even when precautions are followed, it is best to minimize the amount of sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Protect newborns — Keep newborns out of the sun. Up to 6 months, sunscreen is not recommended because a baby’s skin is too sensitive. Instead, keep your baby out of direct sunlight by using proper clothing, umbrellas, canopies and trees to provide shade. A child older than 6 months should wear sunscreen every day, even if it’s overcast.
It’s not just for sunny days — Remember that water, sand and snow reflect the sun. Even on an overcast day, clouds allow 70 percent to 80 percent UV penetration.
New labeling on sunscreen
Beginning this year, you’ll see several changes to sunscreen labels. These changes, which are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will provide you with more information about what a sunscreen can do.
Here are some key changes you’ll see about whether a sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer and sunburn or only prevent sunburn.
— For a label to claim that a sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer and sunburn, it will have to pass two tests.
The first is the broad-spectrum test. This test shows whether a sunscreen can protect your skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Both rays can cause skin cancer. The second is the sun protection factor (SPF) test. This test shows how well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn.
— New warning: For a sunscreen to carry the claim that it can prevent skin cancer and sunburn, it must offer both: 1) broad-spectrum coverage and 2) an SPF of 15 or higher. If the sunscreen does not offer both, the label will have to carry this warning: “This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”
— Water resistance
The FDA is banning companies from claiming that a sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweat proof.” This is simply not possible. You’ll now see the term “water resistant.” To make this claim, the product must pass another test. This test shows how long a sunscreen keeps its SPF when a person goes in the water or sweats. The label also must state how long the water resistance lasts, either 40 or 80 minutes. New warning: If a sunscreen is not water-resistant, the label must carry a warning. This warning will tell you to use a water-resistant sunscreen if you are likely to sweat or be in water.
Source: The American Academy of Dermatology