Stay safe this summer - Sun Smarts

Photo of2 chairs on  the Beach

Stay Safe this Summer - Sun Smarts

Recently I have heard much discussion about whether applying sun screen really helps protect us against damage from the sun and have heard several people state that they no longer will use sun screen nor will they wear protective covering in the sun – since "it doesn't help anyway." I would like to remind everyone that the damage caused by the sun's rays, apart from discoloration, loss of elasticity, wrinkles and skin cancer, is also one more front of attack on our body that forces our immune system to work harder. In our modern world, our bodies are constantly under attack from pollutants in our air, food and water which all stress our immune system – which is already working round-the-clock to rid us of malignant cells. Any way we can give our immune system a break – will help it perform better.



Sun HatSun Protection
The best protection is to stay out of the sun! If you do need to be outside for a short time, shield yourself by wearing long sleeves, long pants and a wide brimmed hat – even on overcast days because there are also harmful rays on cloudy days from indirect "global" radiation. (I actually saw that this is true because I used to research and measure solar radiation levels. )

When you can not avoid being outside, than you might want to also apply a sun screen that protects you, yet isn’t made of dangerous chemicals that can actually harm you. How do you know which sun screens are effective and which ones are safe? As a redhead, I have tried my best to figure this out and below are my findings. Everyone should do research so they can read the label on sunscreen and decide whether it is the right one for them.

How to Choses a Sunscreen that Works
All life processes are dependent on solar radiation, but some rays are dangerous to us. The radiationDog in sun glasses
that comes to us from the sun includes a spectrum of various wave lengths, ranging from invisible short
waves (xray, gamma rays and Ultra violet "UV" rays), the visible light rays which we see as colors
and the long wave lengths that are known as Infrared rays that we feel as heat.

Our concern is the short, ultraviolet rays that cause skin damage. These are divided into
two groups according to their wave length: the longer, 320-400 nanometers – a billionth
of a meter! - called UVA and the shorter, 290 - 320 nanometers is called UVB. The UVA
rays cause aging, wrinkling and loss of elasticity of the skin. These rays also increase the
damaging effects of UVB rays which cause skin cancer.

In order for a sunscreen to protect us from both the UVA and UVB rays, it has to screen us from radiation wavelengths of both UVA and UVB rays - meaning it has to screen wavelengths from 290 - 400  nanometers.

The 1997 Skin Therapy Letter published by the Division of Dermatology at the  University of British Colombia shows which range of wavelengths each screening agent screens. You can view the entire list in the article, but here are some of the more popular screening agents used in sunscreens. Remember we are looking to screen the range of 290 – 400 nanometers:

Sunscreen Agent         Screens Wavelength (in nanometers)
Benzophenone                250 – 350
Oxybenzone                    270 - 350
Avobenzone                    320 – 400
Titanium dioxide             290 – 700
Zinc Oxide                       290 - 700
For more information about using sunscreen, including how to apply and choosing which
SPF to chose,  I suggest Paula Begoun's site, who's info helped me understand how
sunscreens work.

How to chose a Safe Sunscreen
The last 3 products on the list have the best coverage and fortunately are also the safest
for us to use. Many thanks to Debbie Goodrich-Pollack who, as I was writing this article,
introduced me to a EWG's wonderful page on sun protection This site explains which sunscreen
products should be avoided, and which are the safest. For those of you who want more
info about whether using sun screen really protects against skin cancer, you can find both
pro and con research on this site as well.

Luckily, almost 30 years ago, someone explained to me that the freckles on my face are
caused by exposure to sun and from then on the sun and I stopped being friends (and my
freckles disappeared.) When I use a sunscreen my personal choice is one with titanium
oxide.  I receive “good marks” from my dermatologist at my yearly skin screening – a
check up that everyone should do once a year.

*** To answer those of you who have been inquiring - we try to stay out of the sun during the day, but when we are out, my family uses Dr. Fisher's 16 block for babies with Titanium dioxide. For my face I use Paula Begoun's sun block  and/or Bare Essentials mineral makeup with titanium that has a 15 SPF.

Treating Sun Burns
f, despite protection, you do get sunburned, treat it like any other burn by cooling andFirst Aid Sign
disinfecting it. When you receive a burn the cells are actually burning and the burn spreads to adjacent cells. This is the reason why it is so important to stop a burn by cooling it for at least 20 minutes. To treat a sunburn, Moshe Zalle, paramedic extraordinaire and #1 First Aid Course teacher, suggests spending 20 -30 minutes in a bath with tepid water and a small amount of soap. The lukewarm water will stop the sunburn from spreading and the soap will disinfect. Moshe recommends lukewarm rather
than cold water because cold water can be shocking to the burning skin.

After stopping the sunburn from spreading, Aromatherapist, Tamar Brand recommends applying comfrey gel to sooth the skin. You can also add a few drops of Lavender oil to the comfrey gel and apply as often as needed. You can also order a ready made product  for sunburn from Tamar.

Have a safe summer - out of the sun!

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