According to the Environmental Working Group more than a million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the US each year. And malignant melanoma is on the rise.

This is due in large part to ineffective sunscreen products. Higher SPFs may tempt people to stay out in the sun longer, believing that they are protected. But these products often do little to protect from harmful UVA rays and offer no more protection than that of a product with lower SPF.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun deliver ionizing radiation which cause chemical reactions in our bodies. The two types of rays that reach the earth are UVA and UVB. The third type of UV ray emitted by the sun is UVC. These rays are highly hazardous, but are completely absorbed by the ozone layer and never reach the earth.

UVA rays penetrate beyond the top layer of skin, into lower layers, causing long term DNA damage. While these rays do not cause sunburn, they do prompt the body to create free radicals. Scientists believe UVA radiation increases the risk for developing skin cancer and premature aging.

UVB rays penetrate less deeply than UVA, but can still cause DNA damage and are responsible for sunburns. But UVB rays also trigger the body to produce vitamin D, which supports the immune system and cell production, among other things. While care needs to be taken, a moderate amount of sun exposure is vital to our health. Choosing the proper SPF in a sun protection product is key to safeguarding against UV damage.

To calculate your SPF follow these guidelines:

  • Fair skin — can stay in the sun 10 minutes before burning
  • Olive skin — can stay in the sun 15 minutes before burning
  • Dark skin — can stay in the sun 20 minutes before burning

Now multiply SPF by the number of minutes you can stay in the sun before burning. For example: (SPF) 20 x 10 (Fair skin) = 200 minutes (amount of time you can stay in the sun before burning if you have Fair skin and use an SPF of 20).

Currently in the US only UVB protection is assessed in regard to a sun protection product’s safety. But with over 98% of the sun’s rays being UVA rays, this is basically only protecting us from sunburn and short-term damage. The European Union now requires that at least one-third of a sunscreen provide UVA protection.

Chemical sunscreens protect the skin short term but soak into skin over time, which allows damaging UVA rays to be absorbed. These chemicals have also been found in body fat and breast milk and are said to cause hormone disruption. It is for this reason that people should use sunscreens that reflect, absorb, or scatter both kinds of UV radiation.

Minerals are the safest form of sun protection. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide protect against UVA and UVB rays and maintain their protective properties even after hours of exposure to the sun.

Lavera sunscreens conform to European standards, with all sunscreen products being mineral-based and free from harmful chemical ingredients. Our natural sunscreens provide a physical barrier against damaging UV rays — ensuring protection from UVA, as well as UVB rays.

Fun in the sun doesn’t have to be avoided. With the proper sun protection you, and your family, can be assured of a safe and healthy sun-filled season.