Monday, July 12, 2010
In anticipation of my trip to Florida, I went in search of sunscreen. We all know how important it is to use sunscreen. No more carefree days on the beach! The benefit of sunscreen is measured by a sun protection factor (SPF). The SPF is the amount of ultraviolet radiation required to cause sunburn on your skin with the sunscreen on. Therefore, wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 means that your skin will not burn until it has been exposed to 30 times the amount of solar energy that would normally cause your skin to burn.
Anyway, I found a 15 SPF lotion and a 30 SPF lotion in the bathroom cabinet and decided to test if there really is a difference between the two. According to the above statement, the 30 SPF lotion should allow me to be in the sun for twice as long as the 15 SPF lotion before my skin starts to burn. The weather for Saturday called for a sunny 90 degree day. It sounded like the perfect day to conduct a test.
My legs don’t get much sun so I decided to use them as my canvas. To make things as fair as possible, I alternated the application of lotion on each leg: 15 SPF on the top of one, a strip of skin with no lotion and then the 30 SPF. I applied the lotion alternately on the other leg. With my hams all protected, I settled myself on the deck with a book and some iced tea. Within an hour the sky clouded up and it started to rain. So much for that test! I noted that after an hour, there was no sign of sunburn on any part of my legs with sunscreen or otherwise. I suppose that means I can stay out at least an hour without any sunscreen at all without any adverse effects. I’ll have to try this test again when the sun decides to shine for more than an hour at a time.
Anyway, it seems there is more to protecting your skin than simply lathering on a sunscreen. According to Whole Living Magazine, sunscreen eliminates only about 55 percent of the damage to your skin caused by UV rays. Apparently eating right and reducing stress helps your body form an internal sunscreen. On the list of beneficial foods are spinach, tomatoes, oranges, apples and coffee. At first glance this article seemed to be testing my limits of gullibility. I realize that I am greatly influenced by what I read. After all, if it’s in the newspaper it must be true! But if you think about it, this theory does make sense. Sunburn is an inflammation of the skin. Therefore, if you load up on antioxidants which help reduce inflammation, the effects of sunburn can be limited.
I wonder how many bowls of spinach I will need to eat while I am at the beach in Florida.