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Skin Cancer Awareness

As the sun begins to shine in Minnesota, we're excited to get out and enjoy it! Meaning, its also that time for our annual conversation about sun protection.

As much as we welcome the warm sun of summer, the fact is 80 - 90% of all visible sings of aging (wrinkles, sagging, pigmentation) are all manifestations of excessive sun exposure. Now is the time for aggressive protective measures!

Look for a product that is labeled Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection. Think A for Aging - not visible damage on the surface of the skin but they cause premature aging by attacking the collagen underneath the skin (collagen is the support system for our skin). Think B for Burning - what we're most familiar with because they cause the visible sunburn and redness. Both UV spectrums are responsible for the development of skin cancers.

How does SPF (Sun Protection Factor) work? SPF is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Here's how it works: if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer - about 5 hours. (Skin Cancer Foundation)

So how do you choose the right protection? SPF provides guidance into the level of protection that each product offers but SPF numbers can get confusing. You should use a minimum of 30 but there is really no need to go higher than 50. In fact, it only offers a false sense of security using a higher number. The increase in protection is offset by the amount of elevated chemical exposure. The key is RE-APPLICATION! Re-apply sunscreen at least every 2 hours while exposed or while in the water.

There are two types of sun protection -- Physical Blockers & Chemical sunscreen. Physical Blockers are made of minerals that reflect the rays off the surface of the skin. Active mineral ingredients such as Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide are found in Sun Blocks. This type is essential for heat-induced skin conditions such as Rosacea and Melasma. Chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds, which create a chemical reaction and work by changing the rays into heat, and then release the heat from the skin. Ingredients such as Octinoxate, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone and Octisalate are found in chemical sunscreens.

RULE OF THUMB: From the decollete up, use a high quality medical grade sun protection that contains other beneficial anti-aging ingredients. On the rest of your body, use a high quality sun protection that is better suited for application over large areas of coverage.

One last comment: during the summer, the sun is high in the sky and your skin is susceptible to sun damage even on cloudy days. Up to 40 percent of the sun's ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day. This misperception often leads to the most serious sunburns, because people spend all day outdoors with no protection from the sun (Skin Cancer Foundation).

Enjoy the warm weather and remember to ALWAYS use your Sun Protection

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