beach3While the summer can be one of the most fun times of the year, it’s important to remember the real meaning behind the acronym SPF when on the beach or out in the sun all day: sun protection factor.

When choosing a sunscreen product, be sure to read the label. Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended. By applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, we get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes we spend in the sun – 30 times the protection we would have without wearing any sunscreen.


While sunburns can really hurt, there are more serious and harmful effects that come with over-exposure to UV rays. UV radiation can cause premature aging, eye damage, and even skin cancer. So when it comes to the sunscreen, don’t skimp! In addition to putting on sunscreen, take other measures to limit UV exposure:

• Slip on a shirt
• Slap on a hat
• Wrap on sunglasses to protect
the eyes and skin around them
• Seek shade
• Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps

sunscreen-sunglassesWe all know too much sunlight can be harmful, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay inside all summer. Quite the contrary actually! When exposed to the sun, our bodies naturally produce vitamin D which is important for bone health and has even been proven to reduce stress. Maybe that’s why we love going to the beach so much? So summer enthusiasts, I call on you to soak in the sun this summer – just don’t forget about your SPF!

Written by Stephen Clark, Peer Educator