The Importance of Sunscreen
We all seem to have a love/hate relationship with the sun. As a naturopath, I encourage my clients to spend time in the sun. It is soothing, makes us feel good, and we need the vitamin D for optimal calcium absorption. The problem lies in the fact that too much sun exposure can cause problems for our skin, so choosing the right sunscreen, and knowing when and how to apply it is of the utmost importance.
Sunscreen Choices and Tips
There is no question that when we have too many choices for anything, it becomes that much more difficult to know when we are making the right decision. This is especially true when it comes to sunscreens. There are so many options out there. Some well marketed brands in their pretty bottles have“Buy Me” written all over them, yet they are may not be the right one for you. Stay away from those that label too many chemicals, with names that you cannot even pronounce. After speaking with several dermatologists, it is clear that there are two non-toxic sunscreen ingredients that should be included in all sunscreen types. They are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These are the sunscreen ingredients that protect us against the UVA rays. The ultraviolet rays do not necessarily cause sunburn, but these are the rays that penetrate deeper causing skin cancer, and wrinkles. The SPF factor rates how effective the sunscreen is in preventing sunburn caused by UVB rays. For most people, SPF 15 is fine. It is important to note that SPF 30 is NOT twice as strong as SPF 15. SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB, while SPF 30 filters out 97%, which is not a big difference!
How long does sunscreen last?
Once you choose the right product, it is necessary to follow the rules of timing and frequency, or you will not get the protection that is promised. Most dermatologists recommend lathering on the sunscreen 30-60 minutes before heading outdoors to your golf game, run, or sail. Depending on the activity, sunscreen should be applied at least every 2 hours. This is especially important when sweating or when in water. Most people do not apply enough, and often forget areas that they tend not to see, like the back of the neck. Although there is no set recipe for how much to apply, feeling well moisturized is the way to go.
Aloe Vera has been most people’s “go to” product for burn. I am in favor of this, but would like to recommend that you use the gel form that comes either directly from the plant, or is in its pure form. As an alternative, which also makes a wonderful skin moisturizer, try Sea Buckthorn – known as the “Holy Fruit of the Himalayas. While the nourishing and healing qualities of Sea Buckthorn are relatively new to the west, they have been well known in the east for hundreds of years. Along with carotenoid and vitamin E content, the oil from the Sea Buckthorn berry contains Palmitoleic acid, which is a component of skin fat, known to support cell, tissue and wound healing. It is available in most health food stores across the country.
Play it safe
When the sun is shining you can feel a complete mood change! Depending on location, not everyone has the luxury of sun all year round. But when it does come out in your neighborhood, a little bit of care and caution, and taking the time to find the right sunscreen product and apply it properly, can truly brighten your fun in the sun!