Friday, August 24, 2007
Turning up the heat on sunscreen
You may not know this, but sunscreen has been around since the mid 1940s. This product was developed during the height of World War II, when soldiers based out in the Pacific started noticing the dangers of overexposing their skin to the sun. It became widely used in the 1960s. Still, it was only recently that the manufacturers started seriously thinking about UVA rays as well as UVB rays. I was surprised by that, given that UVA rays can be so dangerous. For a long time, many people probably had a false sense of security with their UVB protection alone.
So, SPF means sun protection factor. Most people know that. More specifically, an SPF of 15 means it will take 15 times longer to develop an area of redness on your skin if you wear the sunscreen. That offers obvious protection against sunburns, which are caused by the UVB rays. The problem is the UVA rays dive even deeper under the skin and cause tanning, as well as disruption of collagen, wrinkling and premature aging. Doesn't sound so attractive when I put it that way, right?
Now, new guidelines have been proposed to both mandate UVA protection and to label specific products with the amount of UVA protection they offer. The system will use stars for the ratings, with one star being the lowest protection and four stars being the highest. Products that have no UVA protection will clearly state that there is "no UVA protection" in the bottle. There will also be warnings on the bottles reminding people that too much sun can cause skin cancer. (Full Story)
The fact of the matter is though, no matter the product, people have to actually use it to have any effect whatsoever. (Watch video) You need at least a shot glass amount to cover a normal-sized body and a full teaspoon to cover your face. I have always been surprised by the number of people who improperly use sunscreen. I still see young children with deep, dark tans and adults with sunburns all the time. That's scary given that just a few sunburns can double your risk of skin cancer. So, why do you think that even with all the information about the risks of skin cancer, so few people use adequate sunscreen?
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