let's talk about spf and sun protection

Since it was Summer Solstice on Monday, I figured it was a good time to talk about sun protection. Not sure about those on the East Coast and abroad, but over here in California, it has been hot! Definitely not complaining, I absolutely love the sun. But it does mean we need to be more aware of exposure to harsh rays. Consumer Reports recently came out  with some in depth statistics on sunscreen and which products live up to the bottle's description. I found the information really eye opening so thought I would share some of it here. If you feel this doesn't apply to you, it's worth noting the following that came straight from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime

  • Over the past 3 decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined

  • More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking

  • An estimated 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun

  • People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily

  • Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent and the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent

This isn't here to scare, but just to bring an awareness to the issue and hopefully prevent unnecessary illness. I collected what I thought to be the most valuable points from Consumer Reports' article and put them down below. The article can be read in full here.  To see the 69 products tested you do have to subscribe.

  • SPF 30 is the minimum level recommended by the  American Academy of Dermatology

  • 28 of the 69 sunscreens tested failed to meet the SPF claim on the label

  • The mineral-only sunscreens (more natural versions) performed much worse than the chemical formulations with only 26% of the 19 products tested meeting their claims

  • Their suggestion is to purchase a sunscreen with an SPF of 40 or higher, which will allow more of a chance for the product to contain at least the recommended SPF 30

In addition to sunscreen it's important to avoid prolonged sun exposure when possible. Here is what I do to protect myself from the sun and also what I recommend to my students. Besides wearing a high SPF all over, I wear hats quite often. Baseball caps, straw hats, bowlers...whatever works with my outfit and protects my scalp, neck, and face. I also stay shaded whenever possible. My husband and I purchased a beach tent a few years back and it may have been one of the best purchases we've made! We got the Pacific Beach tent from Amazon. (pictured below from this past weekend). It allows us to be outside and enjoy the beach, but be shaded at the same time. Something else we do is check the UV index periodically throughout the day. The number will tell you how strong the rays are wherever you happen to be. We have a fabulous weather app called Dark Sky that is usually right on when predicting weather patterns and it also tells us what the UV index is. If you don't have the app or want to purchase it, weather.com can give that same information.