Health & Wellness Articles

Sun Protection Tips for Healthy Skin

Get the Facts about Tanning, Sunscreen, and More


The Dangers of Tanning Salons
Promoters of indoor tanning salons claim that their “artificial sun” is safer than natural tanning because they mainly use UVA (non-burning) rays and limit the amount of exposure with timers. But don't believe the literature that tanning salons offer. Indoor tanning is just as bad for your skin as sunlight, according to the AAD. Some studies have shown that tanning bed users often exceed their time limits, exposing themselves to excessive radiation.

A recent Dartmouth Medical School study of nearly 900 skin cancer patients found that using any tanning device increased the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer) by 150 percent and the risk of basal cell carcinoma (another form of skin cancer) by 50 percent. The AAD, Food & Drug Administration, American Medical Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all strongly advise against all forms of indoor tanning.

Protecting Your Skin: Sunscreen Basics
Research suggests that the key to avoiding sunburn and sun damage is using sunscreen correctly. Sunscreens are chemical barriers that help prevent UV radiation from reaching the skin. Many sunscreens combine several different chemical ingredients in order to provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for PABA derivatives, salicylates and/or cinnamates for UVB protection, and benzophenones, avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789), Mexoryl, titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide for protection against the rest of the UV spectrum.

Most sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protection. But what does this number mean? If it takes your skin 20 minutes to burn without protection, for example, an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically protects you 15 times longer, or about five hours. But don’t expect your sunscreen to protect you for this long, as most only offer protection for a maximum of two hours. Even if your skin isn't turning red, it can still be damaged, so re-apply your sunscreen often. Here are some additional sunscreen tips:
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure in order for the ingredients to fully protect the skin.
  • Apply enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass (about one ounce) in order to thoroughly cover all of your exposed skin. During a long day outdoors, one person should use about one half of a full eight-ounce bottle of sunscreen.
  • Reapply sunscreen every one to two hours, after swimming, and after heavy sweating—even if labeled "waterproof."
Other Ways to Protect Your Skin
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • Is it me


    is the girl in the picture

    giving us the finger

    LoL !

    GREAT article

    Am going to send it to my
    fair-skinned, red-headed son
    so he will use the shot-glass/1 oz
    amouint necessary
    No wonder he ALWAYS gets burned
    although he says he uses lotion


    - 10/2/2013 12:16:07 AM
  • i have light brown colored skin and it's also sensitive. I'm allergic to sunscreen. I got a sunburn last summer and possibly 2 times in the summer and a couple times in the winter from sun reflection off the snow. I was hoping for a more natural defense against the sun.
    - 2/21/2013 5:05:12 PM
  • I used to consider tanning a "hobby". I still look wistfully at the tanning salons when I go by. I am now almost 49 years old though, and see the results in the mirror every day. - 10/17/2012 11:13:18 AM
  • To HEALTHYJEN11 and anyone else allergic to sunscreens -

    Google sunscreen clothing and you'll come up with reputable clothing companies. The one I use is fabulous! Hats, gloves, even sleeves only to use when driving, skirts, swimwear - the list is endless. - 10/17/2012 9:34:59 AM
  • warning tanners against the danger of UV rays is like warning smokers against the danger of their tobacco and other poisons. we know the risks. however, I CAN stop tanning whenever I want, it isn't an addiction. and it's a LOT cheaper to visit the cancer beds than to buy the cancer sticks. and while smokers complain of having to freeze in the winters for their vice, I'm toasty warm and relaxed all year round. - 10/17/2012 12:24:25 AM
  • Because of my ancestry I have never felt compelled to be a huge fan of sunscreen. I like to get some sun but generally wear long sleeves even in summer and tend to wear jeans all year long unless I am exercising. - 10/10/2012 8:29:03 PM
  • Well ....Dr' Oz has come around( because of new research)... and NOW recomends the tanning beds that use the UVB....saying no more that 5 minutes each time for health - 7/7/2012 7:26:55 PM
  • I burn instantly in the sun, but am allergic to sunscreen... what's a girl to do??? - 6/23/2012 8:56:14 PM
  • 'Scuse me while I have a chuckle up here at 60 degrees northern latitude. With only 5 hours of sunlight on December 26, and the sun inching along a little hop over the southern horizon, UV damage to my skin isn't one of my big worries today! - 12/26/2011 12:05:44 PM
  • Here is a report to help find non-toxic sunscreens.
    2011sunscreen/ - 6/28/2011 12:55:06 PM
  • Zinc based sunscreens are the only really effective ones. The sunscreens with ingredients ending in "-one" break down in the sun (!), plus they have those synthetic hormone effects. I use zinc spf 50 waterbabies by coppertone to keep the sun off. - 6/28/2011 12:53:48 PM
  • Regarding questions about sunscreen, when you go to the drugstore look for sunscreens that are made for the face (Neutrogena, Aveeno, etc). On a hot sweaty day, you can use these sunscreens and avoid the stinging eyes.

    You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a decent sunscreen as you'll find if you watch this 2011 video about the recent Consumer Reports sunscreen rankings: http://www.ivilla

    And if you are wanting to avoid the greasy feel of sunscreens, you can find those, too. I like Neutrogena. http://www.viewpo

    And Avon has a product that is both a bug repellant and a sunscreen.

    Don't forget that many lotions and make-up foundations and powders now include some sunscreen protection. And you don't have to spend lots of money. This site lists eight inexpensive make-up brands with sunscreen:

    The upside is that if you take care of your skin you'll be one of the wrinkle-free people later in life! - 6/28/2011 9:38:52 AM
  • I am also a Melanoma Survivor. Never laid out in the sun, but was always in sports, probably didn't cover up enough when I was younger. I am a 9 year survivor! - 6/28/2011 9:26:13 AM
  • I'm another survivor of melanoma and also have had a basal cell cancer on my face.

    You can get vitamin D from other sources than the sun. Fair-skinned folks can get their daily dose of Vitamin D with a few minutes in the sun. Others may only need 15 minutes in the sun.
    See http://health.usn

    The rest of the time plan to use sunscreen.

    The Canadians put together a very effective video: "Dear 16-year-old Me." Some of us already made mistakes in our youth regarding sunburn, etc. We can prevent this problem in our children and grandchildren. Go to:
    ?v=_4jgUcxMezM - 6/28/2011 9:20:15 AM
  • Is there a good sunscreen to use when doing outdoor exercise? If I use ordinary sunscreen it runs into my eyes when I sweat. - 6/28/2011 7:58:01 AM

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