Who thought I’d need to write about sunscreen in Michigan in March?! As the days have been warm and sunny, I decided I needed to remind my own kids that sunscreen is important.
Everyone should use sunscreen. Whether you’re a dark skinned African-American (whose skin tone confers the equivalent of an SPF of 4) or a pale-skinned Irish person like me – and regardless of age – sunscreen is a must. Damaging sun rays can cause everything from unwanted wrinkles to skin cancer; being proactive while being outdoors takes a little planning, but is worth it.
Lots of sunscreen products and vehicles (sprays, lotions, creams) are available. Some are marketed as designed for infants and others for people with sensitive skin. Some purport to stay on better through sweat and water exposure while others tout their dry, clean feel for everyday use. The bottom line is this: it really doesn’t matter so much which product you use, but you need to use enough of it often enough to ensure good sun protection.
Choose the product you like the feel of best, make sure the SPF is 30 (higher than that doesn’t add that much additional protection since 30 prevents over 99 percent of the sun damaging rays from getting through) and apply it liberally and often.
Did you know that to cover your body with a lotion appropriately you should be using an ounce or more of lotion? And did you know that you should reapply the sunscreen frequently to ensure continued coverage? That means that a 12-ounce tube of sunscreen will only last a few days if you’re at the pool or on the beach a lot.
Parents often ask about using sunscreen for infants under 6 months of age. The answer is use it, if you can’t avoid the sun for these little babies.
What about Vitamin D? Sun is the best source of Vitamin D and about 20 minutes per day can get you what you need but for some of us that’s enough to get sunburned. My advice? If it’s after 4 p.m. and you’re out for a 30-minute walk, you may be able to go without sunscreen and get your Vitamin D. Otherwise, take a Vitamin D supplement and use your sunscreen!