BC Lifestyle

Sunscreen FAQ

Winter Sun Facts

Sun Safety is often forgotten during the winter months but along with the colder weather comes increased UV exposure. It is important to remember there are a few key factors that will increase your risk of sunburn, including altitude and UV radiation. As you increase your altitude, your increase in exposure to UV rays increases as much as 12% for every 1000 meters and snow can reflect as much as 80% of UV radiation, resulting in double exposure for your sensitive, winter skin. Meaning your next alpine ski trip should come equipped with a full supply of sunscreen for your face and exposed skin to ensure maximum protection from those winter rays.

Infographic: Sun Facts

UV levels increase 10% to 12% every 1000 meters in altitude

Snow can reflect as much as 80% of UV radiation vs beach sand which only reflects 15%

Basic FDA

In 2014, the FDA instituted a set of regulations for sunscreen manufacturers in the United States. This is a summary of the basic requirements and rules for sunscreen manufacturing.

  • The exact, lab tested SPF rating must be displayed. The number cannot be rounded, or adjusted.
  • If you claim to provide Broad Spectrum Coverage, you must pass critical wavelength tests to confirm UVA and UVB protection.
  • No sunscreen can be listed as waterproof.
  • To be water or sweat resistant, must pass a minimum of 40 minutes effectiveness.
  • Maximum water and sweat resistance can only be measured to 80 minutes.

Photo: Sun Safety Lifestyle

Helpful tips for sun safety

Sunscreen is only one important part of protecting yourself from the sun. Here are a few important non-sunscreen tips for shielding your family from the sun:

  • Wear protective clothing: a shirt, wide-brimmed hat, and UV blocking sunglasses. White material reflects more of the sun's rays than darker clothing.
  • If you feel you are getting sunburned, you already are burned. Get out of the sun or add protection as soon as you start to feel your skin burning.
  • Add protective window tinting to your car's side and rear windows, as well as your house windows. This film blocks 99% of UV radiation.
  • Avoid tanning booths at all costs! The increased portion of UVA rays means the risk of skin cancer is increased by 75% with frequent use. The truth is that tanned skin means the skin has been damaged.
  • Limit sun exposure during peak summer hours. Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is most intense.
  • See your doctor once a year for a professional skin exam.

Additional FAQs and Tips

The sun is no joke and can have some pretty harmful side effects with prolonged exposure. However, we understand that we’re a community of outdoor athletes, and staying indoors is not an option for us. To maximize your time outside, consult these tips and FAQs to ensure you’re maximizing your protection as well.

What should I look for when buying a sunscreen?

Bottom line - sunscreen shopping has gotten a lot trickier. Regardless of what brand you choose, make sure to check the bottle for these essentials:

  • Broad Spectrum Coverage
  • Minimum SPF 15
  • Minimum Water Resistance 40 minutes (if you’ll be around water or exercising)
  • Avoid harmful chemicals such as Oxybenzone and Parabens
  • Look for healthy inactive ingredients like aloe vera or Vitamin E to help nourish your skin

What’s Going on with Nanoparticles?

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of nanoparticles in cosmetics as manufacturers are not currently required to disclose the qualities (size, shape, surface area) of these particles being used. While some companies may claim to have nanoparticle formulas, this can be misleading because almost all formulas would be considered to have nanomaterials. If you are concerned about nanoparticle disruption or inhalation, it is best to opt for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide formulas and avoid sprays. To find out more on nanoparticles, follow the EWG link.

What is the proper way to apply sunscreen?

Non-mineral sunscreens (our Active line) should be applied 30 minutes before going in the sun to give it time to absorb into the skin. Reapply every two hours, or more often if going in and out of the water or sweating a lot. People typically do not apply enough sunscreen to their bodies, which lessens their effectiveness.It is recommended to apply one ounce (the volume of a standard shot glass) evenly to the entire body. Be sure to remember highly exposed areas like the ears, lips, feet, hands and neck. These areas burn easily and are often neglected.

What is the best protection for children and infants?

A baby does not yet produce melanin proteins for sun protection and should be kept out of the sun. Protective shade and clothing are a baby's first defense. Infants under 6 months of age need special protection. Please consult with your pediatrician directly if you need additional coverage. As a last resort, use a natural, chemical-free sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to avoid absorption into the skin.

Children have sensitive skin and can be more susceptible to allergic reactions. It is best to opt for a natural, chemical-free sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide with natural, inactive ingredients. Avoid sprays and apply liberally to maximize coverage.

If I use sunscreen am I safe from Skin Cancer?

Sunscreen dramatically decreases the effects of cancer-causing UV rays on the skin; however, cannot prevent it altogether.. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, accounting for nearly half of all cancer cases. Both UVA and UVB rays contribute to the risk of developing skin cancer. Learn more about skin cancer prevention from the American Cancer Society.

What should I do if I get a sunburn?

It happens to the best of us. To stop the burning, which can continue even after you’re out of the sun, take a cool shower or place a cold, wet towel on the burn. To alleviate pain and discomfort, use aloe vera gel or strong moisturizer liberally on all burned areas and for adults, take Ibuprofen. Next time you're out in the sun, be sure to wear protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses and apply sunscreen liberally to burned areas.