What You Need To Know About Sunscreen

This image is no longer available

Fewer than 50 per cent of Americans surveyed by a Northwestern University dermatologist understood the definition of SPF or were able to correctly identify label terminology on sunscreens indicating how well they protected against skin cancer, photoaging and sunburns, according to a report in the journal Dermatology.

But we’re Canadians. We know the correct answers to the following questions about sunscreens …

SPF stands for:

a) Summer Party Fun

b) Swapping Partners Fridays

c) Your answer

Broad spectrum protection is:

a) A sexist term

b) A transparent umbrella that lets you see rainbows

c) Your answer

Two kinds of rays are:

a) Ray Charles and Sugar Ray Robinson

b) X-Rays and Ray-Bans

c) Your answer

Skin aging is caused by:

a) Magnifying mirrors

b) Striking Botox workers

c) Your answer

Sunscreen protects you:

a) Against being tagged on Facebook in your swimsuit

b) From texting on a touch screen

c) Your answer

 NEXT: What You Need to Know

Seriously, there’s nothing funny about what the sun does to your skin.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.
  • You should use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and re-apply it every two hour, more often if you’re in water – even if it’s water resistant.
  • There is no evidence that an SPF higher than 50 affords added protection.
  • Broad spectrum protection protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B radiation (UVB).
  • Both can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin. UVA radiation is mostly to blame for skin aging while UVB is mostly the cause of sunburns. Exposure to both or either one is associated with increasing the risk of skin cancer.
  • Any sunscreen not labeled as “Broad Spectrum” or that has an SPF value between 2 and 14, has only been shown to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or skin aging.
  • Last year’s sunscreen still has its potency, according to the U.S. Federal Drug Administration, but if it’s much older than that, toss it.