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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

A Sunshine State: Sunscreen Defined

But, what does it mean…

By Adriana Ermter

Who hasn’t stopped, mesmerized, at the sight of a sun-weathered-looking person whose biological age is most certainly a decade younger than their perma-bronzed, coconut-scented presence? With blatant disregard for sunscreen, these raisin-like creatures join the ranks of the Ritz Cracker’s George Hamilton, There’s Something About Mary’s Magda and the Grand Old Party’s Donald Trump – each one a cautionary tale for what too much time spent outdoors without SPF will do to your appearance and health. And it makes me ponder, are we using enough sunscreen?

Based on the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation – which has calculated that over 80,000 people develop skin cancer each year, 5,000 of whom are diagnosed with melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) – the answer is no. Most people are not applying SPF properly or as diligently as necessary. To get you back on track, we’re explaining all those confusing SPF terms.

UVA rays:
Ultraviolet A rays from the sun associated with premature aging of your skin. They affect the inner cells in the top layer of the skin, and can cause wrinkles and some skin cancers.

UVB rays:
Ultraviolet B rays from the sun associated with burning your skin. They impact the cells in the top layer of the skin and can contribute to premature aging, while causing sunburns, blistering and skin cancer.

UV radiation:
A form of electromagnetic energy that can come from sunlight, lasers and tanning beds.

Broad-spectrum sunscreen:
A sunscreen product that protects from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.

Chemical sunscreen:
Contains active ingredients that seep into your dermis (the inner layers of your skin) to absorb UV rays, preventing damage to your skin.

Physical sunscreen:
Contains active ingredients that add a protective layer to your epidermis (the outer, top layer of skin) to block UV rays, preventing damage to your skin.

Sensitive skin sunscreen:
Formulas mix-mastered for people with skin allergies, sensitivities and acne. Hypoallergenic and mineral-based, they contain titanium and/or zinc dioxides and are free of fragrance, oils and the active ingredients found in chemical sunscreens.

Sports sunscreen:
The formula is water resistant to sweat and water-based activities, and can last for up to 40 minutes before reapplication is needed.

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