Memphis Sun Safety: Protecting Your Skin

Sunscreen vs Sunblock – The weather can be misleading and, despite the lower than normal temperatures this year, you should always remember UV is present even when it is cloudy and cold. Many weather forecasts provide a UV index which is an indicator to the level of UV penetration. There are two kinds of UV, UV-A and UV-B. All sunscreens protect against UV-B, however they don’t all protect against UV-A. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 is recommended whenever you will be outside. Sunscreens do not provide immediate protection and should be applied 30 minutes before you go outside. Sunblocks, however, do provide immediate protection. Sunscreen/sunblock should be applied liberally, but how often do you need to reapply? Some studies suggest that most people don’t apply enough sunblock in the first place, perhaps with only putting on 25%. If you’ve ever read the instructions on sunscreen or sunblock products, you’ll know they can be quite vague as to how much is enough product to apply and how often you should reapply. It has been shown that people who reapply sunscreen within 45 minutes, seem to have better protection. This strongly suggests that the first application of sunscreen perhaps wasn’t enough. So go for it! Don’t be afraid to really put some on.


child putting on sunscreen

What is SPF? – Sun protection factor is a number which represents how much protection a product will provide; or rather how much longer your skin will take to burn. For example, if you would normally burn within 10-minutes, then SPF 15 will increase your time to burn by 15 times, or 150 minutes. A higher SPF also provides greater coverage protection, but beyond SPF 40 the increase in coverage is negligible. It should be noted that SPF is only a representation for UV-B. There is currently no uniform measure of UV-A absorption. Be careful when using combinations of products. Using some insect repellents will reduce the effective SPF considerably, so be sure to apply more frequently.

Lip Service? – Your lips are made of skin and can burn just like other parts of your skin. So don’t forget to use some kind of protection.

Sun Protective Clothing – Did you know that a typical t-shirt only offers protection from UV of approximately SPF 4? So don’t be fooled into thinking you are protected just simply because your skin isn’t exposed. Many apparel manufacturers, especially of athletic attire, are now making clothes with SPF 30 or more.

Sunglasses – Be sure to wear a pair of sunglasses labeled “100% UV protection” to protect your eyes from the damaging effects of both UV-A and UV-B. If you can, find a pair that are “wrap-around” style. This will help to reduce the chance of UV finding it’s way around the edges of your sunglasses.

Hydration – Do you drink enough? Proper hydration is necessary for our bodies to perform optimally and to be healthy. Some factors, such as becoming hot from the sun and heat of the day, can put physical demands on your body and change how much water you need for your body to remain properly hydrated. Proper hydration is so important for healthy skin. You have probably heard that 8 x 8oz glasses of water is what you should drink each day. Has it ever seemed odd that this is a “one size fits all” kind of approach? It’s a great start, but a better approach to knowing how much daily water intake you need is to take your weight in lbs, and divide it by two. The result is how many fluid ounces of water you should drink each day for your body to be optimally healthy. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs, you should drink at least 70 fl oz of water each day.