The UV radiation that reaches the Earth consists of UVA and the UVB rays that have not been absorbed in the higher levels in the atmosphere. That matters because of the health effects exposure to this radiation has on the skin, eyes and immune system. UVA rays are the ones that penetrate the skin the deepest, causing the skin to lose its elasticity and to wrinkle, the effects of which are cumulative and delayed by at least 10 years. UVB rays are responsible for the production of melanin (the tan, or the “healthy” glow, which is, in fact, the skin reacting to sun damage and trying to protect itself). You should therefore choose a broad spectrum sunscreen because only broad spectrum sunscreens protect from both UVB and UVA rays, the SPF rating only tells you which percentage of UVB rays a sunscreen blocks. 

    Exposure to UV radiation can cause skin cancer. The good news is that daily sun protection can reduce this risk and that when diagnosed early (check your skin regularly) it can be treated with a positive outcome. Exposure to sun and especially in environments that include snow, water and sand, apart from being hazardous to our skin, is also dangerous for our eyes. The known effects of radiation exposure, according to the WHO on the eye include inflammation of the parts of the eye, cataracts, cancer of the eye, all of which will require surgical interventions as treatment.

    There is also evidence that exposure to sunrays can affect your immune system. While low levels of sun exposure can strengthen your immune system (due to Vitamin D), high levels of sun exposure suppress your body’s abilities to defend itself against viruses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

    Selecting the Right Sunscreen

    In addition to traditional lotions that have been around for decades, some newer types of sunscreens have been introduced and should be taken into consideration when selecting the right type for you and your family. While there is no perfect sunscreen, selecting one that you like is the key motivating factor for regular use. Here are a few kinds to consider depending on skin type and sun exposure:

    • Spray – Spray sunscreen can be more convenient than lotions, especially for parents applying sunscreen for children. If you do choose a spray, be sure to use a generous and even coating and apply more frequently.

    • Built-in Sunscreen – Some moisturizers, lipsticks and foundations contain sunscreen. These are perfect for days when you will not be spending much time outdoors and are good for everyday protection. If you do plan on spending a lot of time in the sun, be sure to use a secondary source of sun protection.

    • Mineral – Mineral or hypoallergenic sunscreens are now available for those with sensitive skin. These types of sunscreen sit on the skin instead of being absorbed into it, providing you protection without irritation.

    • Sweat- or Water-Resistant – Although water-resistant and sweat-resistant sunscreens are not 100% waterproof, they are specifically formulated to stay on the skin even after getting wet. It is important to reapply every two hours or after getting out of the water.

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