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Summer Solstice Sunscreen Tips and Sun Protection

This year, the first day of summer -- known as the Summer Solstice -- is June 20, 2012.  Everything She Wants plans to celebrate the longest day of the year in New York City with a free evening yoga class in Times Square sponsored by Athleta. But with a weather forecast for temps close to 100 degrees, I plan to apply plenty of my favorite sunscreens; the paraben-and-fragrance-free Kiss My Face Sun Spray Lotion, SPF 30 (available at Whole Foods Market) on my body and LaRoche-Posay Anthelios 45 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 45 as a facial moisturizer.


Use a broad spectrum sun screen.
Both products have "broad spectrum" coverage, which means they protect against UVB (short solar rays that cause burning and skin cancer) and UVA (long solar rays that cause skin cancer and wrinkles).  If a sunscreen doesn't say broad spectrum or UVB/UVA protection, then ease on down the aisle to find one that does. And when it comes to SPF ratings (sun protection factor; the degree to which a sunscreen can protect the skin from sunburn), SPF 30 can reportedly block 97 percent of UVB rays. An SPF above 30, however, only increases in effectiveness about 1 to 2 percent. 

Here are a few tips on applying sunscreen from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:


  • Apply the recommended amount evenly to all uncovered skin, especially your lips, nose, ears, neck, hands and feet.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out in the sun.
  • If you don't have much hair, apply sunscreen to the top of your head or wear a hat.
  • Re-apply at least every two hours.
  • Give babies and children extra care in the sun. Ask a health care professional before applying sunscreen to children under 6 months old.
  • Apply sunscreen to children older than 6 months every time they go out.


Remember that regardless of your race or ethnic background, during the summer months everyone should apply a broad spectrum sunscreen and limit sun exposure.  Those with pale skin, fair hair and a family history of skin cancer should be especially proactive about sun protection. 


In addition to applying sunscreen, other ways to protect yourself from harmful sun rays is to wear a wide-brimmed hat (Dorfman Pacific has some cute options), wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays, carry an umbrella and stay in the shade as much as possible. It's especially important to limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun's rays are strongest.  Even on an overcast day, 80 percent of the sun's UV rays  can break through the clouds.

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