Avoiding the dangers of sun burn is a must for all sun lovers. There are so many products to help these days from advanced lotions and creams to the new full body swim suits which offer great protection from the sun for both adults and children. Sarongs, bandanas and wraps are also effective as well as looking good too.
The science behind the sun protection of lotions and creams can be confusing. Protection from the sun’s burning rays – both UVA and UVB is essential. Some sunscreen products, labelled “broad-spectrum,” protect against both types of radiation. Other products protect only against UVB, previously thought to be the only damaging type.
UVA and UVB
Scientists now believe that both UVA and UVB can damage the skin and lead to skin cancer.
The first thing to consider is SPF (sun protection factor). The numerical value helps to compare one product to another. This indicates how much longer you can stay out before burning than if you were not using a sun protection product. It does not mean that you should stay in the sun longer, just that you are getting increased protection from a higher SPF compared to a lower SPF. Most experts recommend an SPF of at least 15, whatever your skin type – those with fair skin should be thinking of at least an SPF of 25 and children are recommended to use a sun block or remain covered for complete protection.
Waterproof and water resistant products also need some understanding. Water-resistant products maintain their SPF after you have been in the water for up to 40 minutes whilst Waterproof products must last up to 80 minutes. All products will be wiped off when drying off with a towel, so it’s essential they are re-applied.
It is always worth considering your skin’s sensitivity to any sun protection product. You could be allergic to some of the chemicals in the product you choose; one of the more frequently used chemicals, PABA, does cause a reaction in some individuals; if this is the case, then read the labels carefully and choose a product that is PABA free.
Some cosmetics, such as some lipsticks, act as an effective sunscreen and are easy to reapply, available in a rainbow of different colours as well as clear for a more natural look.
Hats and sunglasses are really essential. A hat with at least a 3-inch brim all around is ideal because it can protect areas often exposed to the sun, such as the neck, ears, eyes, and scalp. For children, a shade cap (which looks like a baseball cap with about 7 inches of material draping down the sides and back) is really effective.
The ideal sunglasses don’t have to be expensive, but they should block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation. Only buy the glasses if the label gives this information and don’t go by how dark the glasses are because UV protection comes from an invisible chemical applied to the lenses, not from the darkness or colour of the lenses.
Large-framed wraparound sunglasses are best (and there are lots of these to choose from) because they can protect your eyes from all angles. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on the eyelids and around the eyes even if you are wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses prevent UV rays from getting into the eyes; they won’t help protect the skin around them.
Good luck, don’t get burned, and remember that happy sun-bathing is safe sun- bathing.
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