4:26 PM EDT, June 15, 2012
Hold on, your sunscreen may not be as safe as you think. We're told to lather up before heading outdoors into the bright sun.
It's really important to use sunscreen, but you'll want to check the labels carefully. The type of sunscreen you choose, the SPF and the ingredients could make a big difference.
Whether it's poolside fun or a stroll down the Greenway, this is a necessity. "I'm more religious about it with my child. With me it's more that I don't want to get sunburned to be honest. Especially because I've had a couple of sunburns on top and it's very unpleasant," said Sean Davis, a walker along the Roanoke Greenway. To avoid that, Michele Meinhart, a dermatology nurse practitioner with Lewis Gale, recommends a minimum of 30 SPF. "You want a sunscreen that has a broad spectrum with both UVA and UVB protection. The UVA protection helps reduce your risk from skin cancer. The UVB helps protect your skin from sunburns," she said.
But a watchdog group called Environmental Working Group warns about sunscreen with the ingredients oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Meinhart isn't so worried about the oxybenzone because the research on it has been limited. "If you can find a sunscreen that doesn't have retinyl palmitate in it, it really is worthwhile to read the list of ingredients. There have been some research studies that say it does cause tumors," said Meinhart.
However, it would be much worse to get a sunburn, especially for children and teens. Meinhart said one bad sunburn under the age of 18 increases your risks for melanoma significantly.
"We use the stick sunscreen on their face and the lotion sunscreen on their bodies," said Melissa Wahlberg. The mother of five takes her kids outside nearly everyday. They go through a bottle of sunscreen every couple of days.
Again, the primary chemical you may want to avoid in your sunscreen is retinyl palmitate. Dermatologists recommend you use SPF 50 on your face everyday. When you're outside for a while, remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours. That's something many of us forget.
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