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Sunscreen: Are you covered?

Sunscreen is considered a summertime essential. As summer starts to hit its peak in the US, we want to discuss some fun facts about sunscreen. Did you know that it has been in existence since the 1940s, but sunscreen has only been regulated by the FDA since 1978 in the US (NBCNews)?

Sunscreens are regulated as an over-the-counter drug in the US because they claim the prevention of sunburns, and if they are a broad-spectrum product, they also claim the prevention of skin cancer and early skin aging. In the EU, sunscreen is considered cosmetic, so it is regulated as such. However, the UV filters in sunscreen must receive pre-market approval in the EU (PCPC). As an FDA-regulated product, sunscreens must pass various tests before they can be sold in the US.

Most people in the US and EU have been applying sunscreen for years, and yet somehow, many of us still get burned somewhere! Did you miss applying your sunscreen to one of these commonly forgotten areas? The ears, nose, lips, back of neck, hands, top of feet, and along the hairline and exposed areas of the head are most missed. Double check that you have applied your SPF on these areas and don’t forget to reapply! There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, so remember to take a look at the label on your package. Should you be reapplying your sunscreen every 40 or every 80 minutes while you are playing in the water or sweating? FDA requires this information on the label, so it should be there. Of course, at a minimum, you should be reapplying every 2 hours when you are lounging, so grab someone to help lather you up!

While you are out enjoying your time in the sun, remember that your sunscreen has active ingredients, so it should not be left out in direct sunlight! You can wrap your sunscreen up in a towel if you’re at the beach, keep it in your backpack while you’re hiking, and even throw it in your cooler to add a refreshing factor on a hot day. Whatever you do, make sure you have plenty of sunscreen with you to protect yourself from those UVA and UVB rays.

Let’s talk a little bit about those pesky UV rays. Your sun protection factor (SPF) value tells you how much sunburn protection is provided by your sunscreen. SPF value ONLY indicates your sunscreen’s UVB protection. UVB rays are the rays that cause sunburns, and UVA rays can cause skin cancer and skin aging. That is why it is important to look for sunscreens that are broad spectrum because they protect from both UVA and UVB rays. Remember to use at least SPF 15 to get the most protection out of your sunscreen!

We hope that you enjoy your summer as much as you can and stay safe!


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