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It's Spring! Break Out The...Sunscreen?

Sunscreen is important for kidsI’m mostly pretty relaxed about momming. There are no absolutes and I’m ok with flying by the seat of my pants. Except for one thing: sunscreen. I am psycho about putting sunscreen on myself and my kids. Probably because I worked for a health organization for a long time and I know sunscreen is an easy, effective way of reducing your risk of skin cancer.

I’ve been in the daily habit of slathering myself with sunscreen for so long that I get slightly anxious if I find myself outside without wearing any. For me it’s as ingrained a part of my morning routine as brushing my teeth. Now that I have kids, putting sunscreen on them is just as important to me, especially since they both inherited my fair complexion that is prone to burning. It only takes a few extra seconds to put some sunscreen on the kids in the morning and again after lunch and it will help them build a good sun-healthy habit for life.

According the American Cancer Society, when picking a sunscreen it’s important to know what all the information on the labels means:

When choosing a sunscreen product, be sure to read the label before you buy. Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended. The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays − a higher number means more protection.

When using an SPF 30 sunscreen and applying it thickly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, 1 hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending 2 minutes totally unprotected. People often do not apply enough sunscreen, so the actual protection they get is less.

Sunscreens labeled with SPFs as high as 100+ are now available. Higher numbers do mean more protection, but many people do not understand the SPF scale. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. The higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. No sunscreen protects you completely. Regardless of the SPF, sunscreen should be reapplied often for maximal protection.

The big takeaway I get from that is to pick a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher, apply it liberally, and put more on every few hours.  Other sun safety recommendations form the American Cancer society include seeking out shade, wearing a hat and sunglasses, and wearing clothing that can help protect you from the sun. Starting kids off early with all these good habits can save them from some painful sunburns now and skin problems including cancer later.

Photo credit: photo stock

Read more from Rebekah at Stay At Home Pundit The Broad Side. Follow Rebekah on Facebook and Twitter too!

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