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About sunscreen and how to use it correctly

Sunscreen is also known as sunblock. Sunscreen is available as a spray, lotion, gel, foam or stick. A sunscreen absorbs or reflects some of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation and thus helps to prevent skin damage. Diligent use of sunscreen can also help to slow or temporarily prevent the development of wrinkles, dark spots and sagging skin. There are 2 types of sunscreens; physical and chemical

  • A physical sunscreen works like a shield, sitting on the surface of the skin and deflecting sun rays. This type of sunscreen contains the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. For sensitive skin this type of sunscreen is recommended

  • A chemical sunscreen works like a sponge and absorbs the sun rays. This type of sunscreen contains one or more of the following active ingredients: avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate 

These are important properties a sunscreen should have:

  • Broad spectrum protection ( which means protection against UVA and UVB rays)

  • SPF 30 or above

  • Water resistance

When a sunscreen has the above mentioned properties, it will help protect your skin from sunburn, early skin aging and skin cancer. However, sunscreen alone can’t fully protect you against the harmful effects of UV rays. Dermatologist recommend taking the following additional steps:

  • Seek shade whenever possible. Rule of thumb is to seek shade if your shadow is shorter than you are. The sun’s rays are mostly the strongest between 10 am and 2 pm.

  • Dress to protect yourself from the sun. This could be by wearing a sun visor recommended by your dermatologist, a wide- brimmed hat and/or sunglasses, pants, long sleeved shirt.

  • Water, snow and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun. So extra caution should be taken when around that, as it increases the chance of sunburn.

  • Instead of seeking vitamin D through the sun; get it safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements.

  • Tanning beds should be avoided. The ultraviolet light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkles. To look tan it’s better to use a self-tanning product that has sunscreen in it.

Who needs sunscreen?  Everyone! Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race. Sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer by protecting you. Sunscreen application and frequency Most people only apply 20-25% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. It’s best to apply sunscreen to cover all skin that clothing will not cover. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet, your neck, your ears and the top of your head if applicable. Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors. Skin cancer can also form on the lips. To protect your lips, use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Also when outdoors, reapply sunscreen approximately every 2 hours, or after swimming or sweating. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA- and UVB rays. 

  • UVA rays are also known as the so called aging rays. These rays can cause premature aging of the skin, wrinkles and age spots. UVA rays can pass through window glass.

  • UVB rays are also known as the so called burning rays. These rays are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.

Is there a safe way to tan? Every time you tan, you damage your skin. This speeds up the aging proces of the skin and increases the risk for all types of skin cancer. There is no safe way to tan! How to decide on what type of sunscreen to buy?

  • Sticks are good to use around the eyes

  • Gels are great for hairy areas like the scalp or male chest

  • Creams are the best for the face and dry skin

  • Sprays are often preferred because of the easy application. Make sure that when using a spray the product thoroughly covers all exposed skin. Take care not to inhale the product, apply near heat, an open flame or while smoking

  • Sunscreen in combination with moisturizers and cosmetics are also available. These type of products also need to be reapplied to achieve the best sun protection

Effect of sunscreen on vitamin D production The use of sunscreen may decrease your skin’s production of vitamin D. You can discuss your options with your doctor, if you are concerned that you are not getting enough vitamin D. Getting the vitamin D you need from foods and/or vitamin supplements is a safe way to get the vitamin D you need, without increasing the risk of skin cancer. Be sure to pair the use of your Bluestone Sunshield with the use of sunscreen and vice versa!

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