Now that summer has finally arrived, talk returns to the increase of the incidence of Melanoma and other skin cancers. Clients have been asking me how I handle sun exposure.
What do I do about sun exposure?
In and around Toronto, I use sun block on my face year round.
In the summer during the day I try to wear long skirt/pants and long sleeves as much as possible especially mid day, If this is impractical, I use sun block on my body and reapply about every hour if I am out for long periods of time.
I always wear a hat and I DO NOT SIT IN THE SUN!!!
When I visit more southerly climes, I go for a run on the beach (wearing a hat) every morning at about 8:00 am and then I go for a swim. I do not use sun protection during these activities but, walking around during the day, I wear long sleeves and pants as much as possible and I use sun protection on my face and hands.
In the afternoon, between 3:00 and 4:00, I go for a swim – after which I apply sun protection (I don’t want my sunscreen to effect any of the sea creatures). I may sit on a beach chair under an umbrella long enough to dry out, but I DO NOT SUNBATHE!!!!! In fact, I am often teased and told I do not look like I have been away.
I simply do not want my face to age prematurely. As it is, I can see how much my hands have aged due to the cycling I do and the gardening I used to do without gloves.
Sun and Vitamin D
Often people will use the excuse that we need to be exposed to the sun to produce vitamin D. But do you know how much time is needed to produce our daily requirement?
The Canadian Dermatology Association says that you only need brief exposure on the back of the hands, face and arms a couple of times a week from May to September and Natural Standard, a holistic medicine site, specifies as little as 10 minutes.
- The UVB rays that produce Vit D3 have a shorter wavelength and are responsible for sunburn.
There are a few factors that inhibit the body from producing Vit. D they can be:
- A tan – the darker your skin the less UVB will penetrate.
- Your weight – Vitamin D just gets trapped in the fat cells and will not circulate in the body.
- Your Age – if you are over 60 it just becomes more difficult to produce D3.
So now you can’t use Vit D as your excuse for sunbathing!
- UVA is the longer wavelength that can penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage to connective tissue. Damage to connective tissue means premature skin aging and possibly skin cancer. Sun beds use UVA rays.
Sunscreens and Blocks
Sunscreens and blocks absorb, scatter or reflect rays from the skin.
If the label reads broad spectrum, it means the product is providing both UVA and UVB protection. This is better protection for not just sun damage but sun rashes and sun dermatitis as well.
- Please don’t be fooled by the numbers, the number refers to the UVB rays only, which may not burn but will cause deeper damage.
- The higher the number does not mean that you can spend more time in the sun. You have to reapply depending on the time of day – location and time of year.
Avoid oxybezone – if it penetrates and enters the bloodstream it acts like an estrogen. It has been linked to endometriosis. It is also linked to allergies.
Definitely avoid retinyl palmitate – it should not be in a sunscreen – it should only be in night creams.
Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide are the best and safest sun block ingredients. Yes it is the white or colourful stuff that you used to see on surfers and skiers. But now it is made to blend into the skin.
A lot of children’s products are in spray form, it is not a good idea to spray the face because they will inhale it. It is best to spray it on your hand then apply it on the child’s face. Also with the spray areas may be missed.
The safest sun block that I have in my clinic is OSMOSIS SHADE
The next safest is IMAGE PREVENTION +
The days of tans are pretty much over I think!