Skin Matters: The Importance of Sunscreen/Sunblock Use in the Summer

The skin is the body’s largest organ and is home to millions of blood vessels, hair follicles, and nerve endings. Thus, our skin matters and proper protection is needed beginning in childhood. This protection can be as easy as using a high quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen or sunblock that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) protects your skin for UVB rays the rays that have the ability to burn the skin while UVA rays cause premature aging of the skin. Always look for SPFs over 30, and make sure the are either a broad spectrum sunscreen or sunblock. The SPF reading is commonly misread as a time length for coverage. In fact the SPF reading has nothing with how long a sunscreen or sunblock protects your skin.

When it comes between choosing sunscreen or sunblock, Dr. Gregory Wittenberg, MD, says to choose the sunblock. The main difference is that a sunblock provides a better overall protection, especially when in regards to UVB rays. Also, make sure to select sunscreen or sunblock that provides broad spectrum coverage, protecting from both, UVA and UVB rays. Also note that this is only a slight increase in protection when the SPF is over 50.

Some of the most popular variations of sunscreen claim to be water-resistant. The water-resistant sunscreens are, for the most part, acceptable. However, for kiddos who are actively sweating or going in and out of the pool, reapply regularly.

Here are some quick tips to help with sun prevention:

  1. Apply 15-30 minutes before sun exposure
  2. Apply to all locations that will have sun exposure, even the lips!
  3. Reapply every 1-2 hours
  4. Sand and Water reflect sunlight, so it is especially important to apply sunscreen when at the beach or pool!
  5. UV rays are still present on cloudy days

Dr. Lycia Scott-Thornburg says that her go-to sunscreen for Babies is Blue Lizard baby SPF 30. However, it is strongly encouraged that babies under 6 months do not have direct exposure to the sun, as their skin is very sensitive at such a young age, but if they must be outdoors shade is strongly encouraged.