This Guest Blog Post is from Haley McNamara, one of Dr. T’s Health Psychology students:
With temperatures rising and summer approaching in southern California, sunscreen is an important, yet widely misunderstood topic. What exactly is SPF? According to this article from The New York Times, solar rays come in two equally dangerous forms: UVA and UVB. SPF, or sun protection factor, only describes the amount of protection from UVB rays. Sunscreen labels can be even more misleading; because the amount of sunscreen applied in product testing can be up to twice as much as a typical consumer would apply. Any product, “above an SPF of 30, which can block 97 percent of UVB (if used in testing amounts), effectiveness increases by only 1 or 2 percent. In the way that sunscreens are used in the real world, then, a product with an SPF of 30 actually provides the protection of SPF 2.3 to 5.5.” Despite the belief that sunscreen can actually cause skin cancer, there is no evidence to support this claim, so sunscreen should be an integral part of any skin care routine. Medical professionals suggest applying a broad spectrum SPF of 30 – 50 every two hours during sun exposure. Staying clear of the afternoon sun is generally the best course of action, but if it is unavoidable, bring with you hats, umbrellas, and protective clothing. And while you might love your bronzed skin, you won’t feel so sexy with sun damage or skin cancer.