Going out in the sun for extended periods of time is a very large part of everyone’s lives- especially this time of year. While fun should be emphasized, safety is also crucial. Using the right suntan lotion is important, as you want the best protection against UVA and UVB rays possible. Everyone is different, so not everyone is going to need the same sunscreen.

When buying sunscreen, every bottle has “SPF” followed by a number printed on it. This stands for “sun protection factor” and accounts for how much UVB rays are blocked by it. The number, multiplied by 10, is how many minutes it will protect you from UVB rays. For example, SPF 15 would protect your skin for 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours. SPF 15 is what is recommended for the average person. If you have fair skin, skin cancer in family history, or other conditions such as Lupus, doctors recommend SPF 30 or above.
UVA protection is slightly different. It is based on the actual ingredients of the sunscreen, as opposed to the sun protection factor. When shopping for the right brand, look for one or several of these in the ingredients: ecamsule, avobenzone,oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide. These are all FDA-approved ingredients that each have their own individual advantages and disadvantages at protecting you from UVA rays.

During the summer months, exercise and swimming are both very common activities. Not all suntan lotions are made for these purposes, which is why it is important to look for a sweat and water resistant brand if you are going to partake. Specialized suntan lotion is also important for children. Para-aminobenzoic acid, dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, and sulisobenzone are commonly found in sunscreens made for adults, but can be harmful and irritating to children. There are many brands made for specific age groups of children, so look into those if you have a child in need of sunscreen.

Protection from the sun is important. While it gives many things life, it also causes ailments illness from long exposure. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer during the course of their lifetime- most of these cases are related to extended exposure to the UVA and UVB rays of the sun without protection. Beyond cancer, sunburn is a painful and irritating condition, which can easily be prevented by applying the right kind of suntan lotion.

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