Health & Wellness Articles

Sun Protection Tips for Healthy Skin

Get the Facts about Tanning, Sunscreen, and More

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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.

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