Ask The Swag Gal – July 6, 2011

I’ve been asked this question quite a few times now, so I figured I would answer it in today’s Ask The Swag Gal.

“What’s the best way to protect your skin from the hot sun during the summer?”

Sometimes it’s not just getting the right sunscreen, but making sure you’re using it properly.  First, let’s find out how sunscreen works.  According to WebMD, “Sunscreens help shield you from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays in two ways. Some work by scattering the light, reflecting it away from your body. Others absorb the UV rays before they reach your skin.”  The SPF factor rates how well the sunscreen protects against a cancer-causing UV ray, Ultraviolet B.  However, research has recently shown that we need to also protect ourselves against UVA – ultraviolet A rays.  Although UVA rays don’t necessarily cause sunburns, they do penetrate deeply into the skin and cause wrinkles.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90% of skin changes associated with aging are really caused by a lifetime’s exposure to UVA rays.

So, when looking for the right sunscreen, make sure you check that it is equipped to protect against UVA as well as UVB rays.  Typically, an SPF 15 suncreen should be fine.  However, if you have very fair skin, a family history of skin cancer, or conditions like lupus that increase sensitivity to sunlight, consider an SPF 30 or higher.  “Keep in mind that the higher the SPF, the smaller the increased benefit: contrary to what you might think, SPF 30 isn’t twice as strong as SPF 15. While SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB, SPF 30 filters out 97%, only a slight improvement.”

Unfortunately, there is no rating for UVA protection, so you have to base it on the ingredients.  According to Dr. David J. Leffell, professor of dermatology and surgery at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, you should look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, orzinc oxide.

If you are planning on getting wet in the pool or at the beach, or getting sweaty while exercising, you should pick up a water resistant sunscreen.  But, be careful!  “The FDA defines water resistant sunscreen as meaning that the SPF level stays effective after 40 minutes in the water. Very water resistant means it holds after 80 minutes of swimming. These sunscreens are in no way water-proof, so you’ll need to reapply them regularly if you’re taking a dip.”

I certainly hope this helps.  Now you should be able to enjoy the Summer fun without worrying about harming your skin.

Lather up!


P.S. – Send your questions to  If your question is picked, your answer will be featured in the blog and you’ll be hooked up with 150 Swag Bucks!