MHLbannersmallUV Safety Month is a good time to be
smart about the sun

July is Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month and there's no better time to think about the downside of overexposure to the sun's rays – and sunscreen is a big part of the picture.

When it comes to sunscreen there are a lot of choices. But sometimes too many choices can lead to confusion. For example, should you opt for oils or creams, butters or pastes, gels or sticks? And what about sprays? What sun protection factor (SPF) should you use? Because of the wide array of products out there and the somewhat less than standard label requirements, the Federal Drug Administration has introduced new regulations regarding what can appear on sunscreen packaging. Here are some of the basic requirements for products that claim to lower the risk of skin cancer as well as early skin aging when used as directed:

5-Free-Summer-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Happy-Smiling-SunGood sun sense starts with you

The new FDA label regulations are helpful and sunscreen itself is a necessary tool. But keeping these tips in mind will go a long way toward protecting your skin and your future health while you work or play in the sun.

  • Use sunscreens with broad spectrum SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed by the updated label instructions.
  • Limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's rays are most intense.
  • Different dosage and delivery systems (lotion, spray, stick, etc.) of the same product may be labeled different to reflect product testing.
  • Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun; for example, long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 40 or 80 minutes in accordance with the new FDA regulations if you're sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
  • And of particular importance to those of us who live in the Tidewater region, the radiation bouncing off a reflective surface – like sand or water – is especially dangerous because the reflection intensifies the light.

Enjoy your fun in the sun responsibly. And remember … for some good summer reading material, closely check out the label on the front and back of your sunscreen.