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Facts about Sunscreen: Is Sunscreen Safe?

Posted: May 8th, 2018

Sunscreen helps protect the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can cause skin cancer and premature aging. Annually, over 2 million people are diagnosed with 3.5 million skin cancers. Many skin cancers can be prevented by using sunscreen products, and they have been proven safe to use.

Using sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher protects the skin against the damaging UV effects of the sun. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen that is water resistant and offers broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays). UVA rays are constantly present, no matter what season it is or the weather. These rays penetrate deep into the skin causing cell damage and are responsible for premature aging. UVB rays can cause sunburn, and can reflect off water, sand or snow. Both UVA & UVB rays can damage the skin which could lead to skin cancer. Always remember to not only use sunscreen, but also wear protective clothing, seek shade between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and avoid tanning beds.

Sunscreen should be applied 15-30 minutes before going outdoors and reapplied approximately every two hours especially after swimming or sweating heavily. Even on cloudy days, up to 80% of the sun’s damaging UV rays can penetrate your skin. It is recommended that a person should follow the guidelines of “one ounce, enough to fill a shot glass” in determining how much sunscreen to use. Dermatologists have considered this amount to be enough to cover the exposed areas of the body, but the amount of sunscreen used depends on body size as well.

Scientific studies show that using sunscreen is not only safe but can lesson short-term and long-term damage to the skin from the sun’s rays. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates sunscreens and all the ingredients found in them. The ingredient Oxybenzone protects skin from UVA & UVB rays and was approved by the FDA in 1978. FDA declares it safe for people 6 months of age or older. Another ingredient in sunscreen is Retinyl palmitate which protects our skin from pre-mature aging. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are ingredients that are safe as well.

In conclusion, when sunscreen is used according to directions it protects the skin from the damaging effects of the sun, and is safe to use. Don’t forget to do regular body checks at home and see your skin care doctor every year for a professional skin exam.

Sources– Facts & Figures from: American Academy of Dermatology and The Skin Cancer Foundation.