Now that summer has officially started, it’s time for some fun in the sun.
But taking all the right steps to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays may not be giving you the level of protection you think.
a study done by Consumer Reports in May that tested and rated more than 60 sunscreen lotions, sprays and sticks with SPF claims of 30 or higher found that 28, or 43 percent, failed to meet the SPF claim on the label.
Three of them fell far short, with tests showing an SPF of less than 15, meaning consumers could be at risk of sunburn and potential long-term skin damage even though they think they’re properly protected.
“That’s very scary,” Taylor Simpson, a Hagerstown-area mother, said recently. “I trust what I read on the bottle.”
Simpson said sun protection is very important for her and her daughter, especially since her mother had skin cancer.
“We go for at least SPF 50 or higher,” she said.
The american academy of Dermatology recommends using at least SPF 30, which blocks 97 percent of UVB rays.
SPF is a measure of the level of protection against UVB radiation which causes sunburn.
Many sunscreens also indicate they offer broad spectrum protection, meaning protection from UVa rays, which penetrate much deeper into the skin and can cause cancer and premature aging of the skin.
Dr. Wayne Ledinh, a plastic surgeon at Summit Plastic Surgery and Skin Care Center in Chambersburg, Pa., also recommends using a sunscreen that you can see while rubbing it in to ensure all exposed skin gets covered.
another important thing is to make sure you reapply sunscreen, he said.
“Never assume that an SPF 30 or SPF 50 sunscreen will provide adequate protection for a day at the pool or afternoon outside,” Ledinh said. “You should reapply at least every two hours and after being in the water or sweating.”
But faced with the reality that sunscreen may not be as strong of a defense as expected, some other recommendations include stay in the shade, especially during midday hours, wear a wide-brim hat and cover up with clothing when possible.
Some of the sunscreens Consumer Reports tested did the job better and can be purchased at a reasonable cost.
among them were Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 for about $6; Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 for about $8; and No-ad Sport SPF 50 for $10, according to the report.
“always go higher,” said Tracy Clipps, a Hagerstown-area mother. “Go to SPF 50 instead of 30.”