The letters SPF (sun protection factor) can be very reassuring for many who are seeking protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. But, buyer beware. Some SPFs only protect against UVB rays and does not protect against its partner in crime, UVA, which can be extremely dangerous, because it penetrates deep into the third layer of the skin, and can cause irreversible cellular damage.
And yes, there’s a whole heap of back and forth in the scientific community regarding the effectiveness of sunscreens, with some studies even suggesting there may be no link to SPF protecting against the deadliest forms of skin cancer.
My advice? Until unequivocally proven to be of no use, find a safe SPF and stick to it because nothing’s set in stone. And again, prevention is better than cure.
So, what’s a gal to do to keep her skin safe (er) from harmful UV radiation? Well, for starters,
♥ Wear protective clothing. I know the temptation to expose your skin, endlessly in the summer is great (it is for me, and I do), especially after the long brutal winters some of us have to endure. But, what would you rather? To be safe or to be sorry? Wear wide brim hats. I wear a fedora most days in the summer. Trust me, hats are so much fun. Wear long sleeves and other lengthy materials that protect your skin. And if cool points don’t matter to you, there’s always an umbrella. And don’t forget your sunglasses to protect your eyes. Fashion for health. It’s all good.
♥ Don’ t run out and purchase products that have an SPF higher than 30. It doesn’t make a significant difference in protection. In fact, studies have shown that higher SPF claims lead consumers into believing that they are safer for longer periods in the sun. This, of course, is absolutely not the case. Besides. higher SPF gives you minute additional protection when compared to the lower numbers, and they also contain more additives to bump up the SPF, which may, in the long run, do more harm than good to your cells.
♥ Limit your time in the sun. Because some sunscreens only protect against UVB radiation and not UVA radiation, it’s extremely difficult to determine how much cells are being affected by UVA radiation. Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities during hours when the sun’s UV radiation is high. And if you must be in the sun for long hours, be sure your sunscreen has nanoparticles like, zinc oxide, which does a great job of protecting against UVA radiation. Titanium dioxide is another nano particle ingredient that prevents UVA radiation, though it’s not as effective as the Zinc oxide. However, both hold up very well in the sun.
♥ SPF UP with broad spectrum protection that covers both UVA and UVB rays. Remember, anything over 30 is nothing but hype. Read your labels and make sure it says UVA and UVB protection. Again, look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Important note** Do not avoid the sun altogether as it can lead to a vitamin D deficiency, and vitamin D is needed for bone growth and calcium absorption, and believe it or not, to protect against some types of cancers.
Dixie Lincoln- Nichols is a biological science educator, health and wellbeing consultant and Qigong instructor. Her work has been featured in media outlets like, Oprah Mag, SELF, Yahoo and more. She is the founder of Inside Outer Beauty Market, a multi-cultutal retailer curating and creating products to support the body inside and out. Visit the site at www.iobeautymarket.com