What are sunscreens?

Sunscreens protect the skin against sunburns and block the penetration of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can lead to skin cancer. However, no sunscreen can block 100 percent of UV radiation.

What is the difference between a sunscreen and a sunblock?

Sunscreen labels can be confusing. The protection provided by a sunscreen is indicated by the sun protection factor (SPF) listed on the product label. A sunblock is considered to be any sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more.  Sunscreens protect during an incident of ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation exposure according to the following:

•    SPF 15 sunscreen should absorb more than 92 percent of UVB radiation.

•    SPF 30 sunscreen should absorb 97 percent of UVB radiation.

How do you use sunscreens?

Sunscreen protects from sunburn by reflecting UV rays. Using sunscreens correctly is important for protecting the skin. Consider the following:

•    Use of a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher will offer solid protection against sunburns.

•    Choose a sunscreen that filters out both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB).

•    High SPF sunscreens protect for longer periods of time than sunscreens with lower SPFs.

•    Apply sunscreens to all exposed areas of skin, including those easily disregarded, such as ears, lips, back of the neck, and feet.

•    Sunscreens are recommended for everyone, regardless of skin or complexion type. Research has shown that UVA rays may contribute to early aging and skin cancer.

•    The recommended dose is one ounce per application. Reapply every two hours, after being in the water, or after exercising or sweating.

•    Do not forget to apply sunscreen when performing outdoor chores.