By: Myra "Meemee" Taylor
Exercising outdoors exposes you to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet (UV) rays. Although it’s not common, African-Americans can get skin cancer. (Bob Marley died of the disease at the age of 36.) Luckily there is a way to help protect yourself. Sunscreen! With so many options available, sunscreen display aisles can be daunting if you don’t know what to look for. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right sunscreen for you:
SPF: SPF stands for “sun protection factor.” Get a sunscreen with at least a SPF of 15. For extended outdoor activity, use SPF 30 or higher. (Don’t forget to use chapstick with SPF to protect your lips!)
UV Coverage: Look for sunscreens that say “broad spectrum” because they protect you from both UVA (can prematurely age your skin) and UVB (can burn your skin). Use sunscreen even on overcast days since UV light can pass through clouds.
Sweat: Make sure the label says “water-resistant” which means the SPF stays effective even after you start perspiring.
Potentially Harmful Ingredients: Avoid products with oxybenzone (endocrine disruption) and retinyl palmitate/vitamin A (speeds up the development of skin tumors and lesions). You should also avoid those with parabens which have been linked to the cancer you are trying to avoid!
Research: EWG.org is an excellent website that rates sunscreens on several factors, such as health concerns.
Sunblock vs Sunscreen: Sunblock acts as a mirror and deflects the sun from your skin whereas sunscreens absorb the sun and convert it to less damaging radiation. Sunblock has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which is good for people with sensitive skin because it is less irritating than ingredients in sunscreens. The disadvantage of sunblock is it consists of a thick lotion that looks white on your skin.
Instructions: Be sure to read the directions on the bottle. One time I didn’t notice “shake well before use” and slathered it on. My arm felt like it was on fire. Lesson learned the hard way.
Wear sunglasses with UV protection and sun visors or hats to further safeguard yourself. Be proactive. You are doing a great thing for your body by exercising, now make sure you are protecting your skin as well!
Myra “MeeMee” Taylor is a proud member of the BGR-Los Angeles Chapter. Check out her humorous blog, www.cheapskate-a-holic.com, for tips on saving money and her short story “Lavender Sheets” in the sci-fi anthology The Memory Eater available on Amazon.com.
Photo credit: Myra Taylor
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