Is Your Sunscreen Really Helping?

This summer, when you relax by the pool or tackle another round of golf, make sure that you have adequate protection against the sun’s harmful rays.

A common misconception is that a sunscreen with a high SPF (sunburn protection factor) is all you need for protection. It’s true, a product with an SPF of 15 will screen out 93 percent of the sun’s UVB radiation. SPF 30 filters out 97 percent. Of course, that’s only true if you keep applying the product, as swimming, sweat and even toweling off can remove that protection pretty quickly.

Another problem is that we’re only talking about UVB radiation – those sun rays that lead to burning. While UVB protection is important, it is just as important that you have adequate protection against UVA radiation, which is what can lead to aging and sun spots on your skin. Unfortunately, many over the counter products do not offer this UVA protection.

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new labeling system for sunscreen products to help consumers better understand the level of protection they are getting. In addition to the SPF factor currently used, the FDA will require all products to use a four-star rating system to inform consumers how well the product protects them against UVA light. Products that do not earn at least one star will have to carry a label stating that they do not offer any UVA protection.

While the FDA has been promising to mandate these labeling changes for more than a dozen years, it now appears they may actually move forward later this year. You don’t have to wait, however. There are some excellent products available today that do offer maximum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Colorscience Pro, for example, is a powder-based sunscreen that protects against both types of damaging rays. It is available in several shades, is very water resistant, and provides even coverage and protection to keep you safe and looking good.

Don’t take chances with an over the counter sunscreen, especially if you are not sure how much protection it provides. Ask a professional esthetician or your doctor to help you find the product that’s best for you.

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