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Sunscreen labels

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The government changes regulations periodically. These changes now apply to sunscreens. Look for the terms “broad-spectrum” and “water-resistant." There will no longer be products labeled “sun block” and "water proof."

“Broad-spectrum” products are best used for overall protection against skin cancer, premature aging and sunburn. “Water-resistant” products are best used for sun protection when water sports are involved. Reapplication is always necessary, usually before the two-hour mark or after excessive sweating. Read the label for specific details.

When thinking sun protection, choose SPF 30. Do not forget to protect the lips. Skin cancers that occur on the lips can be very aggressive. Look for a lip balm with a “Broad Spectrum SPF 30” label and be sure to use that year round.

Broad-spectrum products protect against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays account for about 95 percent of the radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. They can penetrate glass and clouds. Long-term UVA ray exposure causes photo damaging to the skin: wrinkles. Tanning booths use UVA rays.

UVB rays damage the superficial skin layers by causing sunburn. UVB rays are prominent between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October. Though damaging all year round UVB rays hit the skin twice on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice and at high altitudes.

UV rays are invisible to the naked eye but do penetrate the atmosphere. In addition to overall skin damage, UV rays cause eye damage, so it is a good reason to wear sunglasses.

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