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Lotions and Potions for Safe Sunning

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

UVA, UVB, SPF. Most of us have seen these tags on sun cream, but do we know what they are and what they do? There are loads of creams and gadgets to protect from sun damage on the market, but how can we be sure that they are the right choice.
We'll also have a few other gadgets and gizmos that are a must have on the beach to keep you and your family safe in the sunshine.

Norma Cronin - Spokesperson Irish Cancer Society

There is a huge range of sun cream in the chemist, with a variation in price. What are we looking for on the bottle so that we know its giving protection?
UVA - About 95% of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth is UVA. Regular exposure to high doses of UVA can age your skin and cause skin cancer.

UVA has a longer wavelength than other types of radiation so it penetrates deeper into the skin. It causes your skin to darken, contributes to early ageing of your skin and damages your eyes.

UVB - About 5% of radiation that reaches the earth's surface is UVB. UVB penetrates into the epidermis. It is more dangerous to the skin and eyes than UVA. It burns your skin, causes skin cancer and eye damage. UVB is associated with the development of malignant melanoma.

Do I wear suncream if I'm sitting in the shade?

Yes. Solar UVR is made up of scattered and direct radiation. If there is a blue, cloudless sky and you are outside in the shade, you are still exposed to UVR. Sometimes the amount of scattered UVR may be greater than the amount from the direct sun.
UVR can be reflected back from some surfaces. Snow reflects the greatest amount. Sand, white paint, grass and water all reflect a considerable amount of ultraviolet radiation.

SPF - Sun Protection Factor

The recommendation by the cancer society is not to go under SPF 15. A number on a scale for rating the degree of protection provided by sunscreens. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.

SPF numbers on a package can range from as low as 2 to as high as 100. These numbers refer to the product's ability to screen or block out the sun's burning rays. It is a common mistake to assume that the duration of effectiveness of a sunscreen can be calculated simply by multiplying the SPF by the length of time it takes for him or her to suffer a burn without sunscreen, because the amount of sun exposure a person receives is dependent upon more than just the length of time spent in the sun. The amount of sun exposure depends upon a number of factors including the length of exposure, time of day, geographic location, and weather conditions.

Should you go for the expensive cream?

The main thing is that the cream has the correct SPF number and that it has UVA and UVB protection.

How often do you apply suncream if you are sunbathing?

Every two hours if you are not in the water. However, we recommend that you reapply even waterproof cream when you get out of the water, or to reapply more often if you are sweating.

When should you apply it?

It should be applied 20 minutes before going out into the sun.

Waterproof Vs Water Resistant

If you are looking for a sunscreen to use while in the water, choose a sunscreen that is "waterproof" or "water resistant."
"Waterproof" sunscreen should provide protection in the water for 80 minutes, while "water resistant" provides only 40 minutes of protection.

Call the National Cancer Helpline on 1800 200 700

All Creams and UV Sunglasses are from McCabe's pharmacy, who have special offer prices on Ambre Solaire, Malibu, Nivea and L'Oreal suncreams.

Dundrum Shopping Centre
Level 3 Unit 17
01 298 6709
Offers available in stores nationwide.

Children's tent, sunglasses and UV playsuit available from