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Top Ten Things to Know About Sunscreen

top tenI’m the world’s worst at remembering to put sunscreen on – I’m not a great fan of sitting in the direct sun, so think less of protecting my skin. The last two times I suffered nasty sunburn were both when I thought I didn’t need it; first was in Mexico while sitting in the shade of a palm tree and the second when out salmon fishing off Victoria. In the first instance the sun was slyly filtering through the palm leaves, and in the second it was being reflected off the ocean – who knew?

Here’s a neat factoid, did you know there are two types of rays? Those that burn you don’t go through window glass, but those that cause premature wrinkles and those dreaded age spots CAN pass through windows (closed ones of course – c’mon now!).

If you’re planning to spend some time by the pool at one of the Accent Inns hotels in Kamloops or Kelowna, or the new Hotel Zed in Kelowna, or spent a day wandering around the wineries of the Okanagan, here are ten things to ensure you and your family are protected from the damaging rays of the sun.

  1. No one’s immune, no matter your age, gender, complexion, race – those ultraviolet rays can cause cancer in absolutely anyone – period. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 20 percent of Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
  2. There’s lots of discussion over what type to use, but when it comes down to it, it needs to be water resistant, broad spectrum, and SPF 30 or higher.
  3. Shade is your friend, especially between ten in the morning and two in the afternoon – that’s when the sun’s rays are at their most damaging. Go for a coffee perhaps, or have a midday nap on a wonderfully comfortable Accent Inn’s bed?
  4. How much is enough? Dermatologists say we need an ounce to cover the exposed parts of our body. Now I suppose that recommendation depends somewhat on the size of our body and how much we want to expose. But as none ofsunscreen-hat the Accent Inns, nor Hotel Zeds are swimsuit optional I think we can safely say fill a shot glass of the stuff and you should be fine!
  5. How often? Set your smart phone to two hours, reapply sunscreen, repeat. Oh, and reapply after swimming, or sweating a lot – ewww! One more thing, if using your phone as an alarm remove from pocket before swimming – there just saved you a fortune!
  6. Take a magnifying glass with you on vacation and read the sunscreen bottle label – they’re all different and the wording can be tricky. For instance, do you know the difference between Water Resistant and Very Water Resistant? The first lasts 40-minutes in water the latter 80-minutes. Good to know eh?
  7. Your lips are part of your body! Lip balm that contains sunscreen rated SPF 30 or higher will keep your lips kissable for years to come – so pucker up and apply, apply, apply!
  8. I don’t want to be a killjoy – but there is no safe way to tan. Every suntan damages your skin. The question you have to ask is, is it worth it to look like a God, or Goddess?
  9. Creams, gels, sprays, sticks? You may need them all – sorry the cost of your vacation just went up 50 percent. Here’s the skinny (sorry) – gels are good for hairy areas (whatever); sticks are good for near eyes (go figure, I was going to spray them!); creams are best for faces or if you have really dry skin (this is where you can apply it thick and make yourself look like a clown); sprays are handy but don’t breathe, cover eyes and make sure you reach everywhere exposed part of the body (and for heaven’s sake put that cigarette out or you’ll have a flame thrower!).
  10. The SPF (Sunscreen Protection Factor) story – 30 blocks out 97 percent of the sun’s rays, so it’s the law of diminishing returns, 50 increase protection by one percent, and 100 by a further one percent. It’s far more important to apply it properly if you want to increase your protection.

I was going to talk about treating sunburn, but realized if you read my ten tips, you’ll never need to know.

Mike Wicks
Blue Beetle Creative