The Importance of Sunblock

Hopefully you are reading this while your grandchildren are young and impressionable. It will make this part of your job so much easier, than if they were in their teens. However, even if they are in their teens, it’s something that needs to be addressed, if they are unaware, or simply don’t care.

I know this will be extremely difficult to get your grandkids to understand that tomorrow’s problem is a result of needing a tan today. I remember what it was like to want to be tan and compared tans with all my friends. It was a big deal. Every teen wants to fit in, and that includes being outdoors and looking like everyone else.

Fortunately for you, having a beautiful pale skin is making a comeback. It is now acceptable to have a pale complexion. Just take a look at some of our most recent heroes from the Olympics, actors, and dancers. It might help to point these people out to your grandchild.

But, for those who have an uphill battle on their hands…or, the rare parent who sees nothing wrong with laying out in the sun with baby oil, read on for some ‘encouragement’.

Preventing Tomorrow’s Problem

Most children, no matter what age, have difficulty seeing into, or planning for the future. They live in the moment, because at this point in their life, it’s the only thing that matters. So, getting them to see what excessive sun can do to their bodies might be a huge task to take on. However, I believe so strongly in the importance of this because of my own experience.

Premature aging is just one casualty of youthful sun worshipping. It also might be the hardest point to ‘sell’ your child on, because in their minds, they are never going to age. But wrinkles, age spots, and an overall dull appearance could be just around the corner if they don’t take care of their skin now.

Sure, they can use a fantastic anti aging skin cream when that time comes, if the damage is minor that is. As we age, the collagen and elasticity in our skin breaks down…and any damage to our skin speeds that process up. Well, tanning our skin is doing just that, even though it looks healthy in the moment. But, while creams and moisturizers help, it’s not a cure.

Another area of concern is skin disorders, such as rosacea. While experts won’t completely agree on this, some say that excessive sun is a factor. I have rosacea, but never did until just a few years ago. Nobody else in my family has it. Then again, nobody else in my family craved the tan like I did either.

Unfortunately, this is not just a nuisance, with red blotchy skin. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable, with my skin feeling like it is on fire at times, or rubbed with sandpaper. I have gone through laser treatments to help, but those are also uncomfortable, and expensive.

Then there is skin cancer. Like many others, I used to think that skin cancer was just on the surface and nothing serious. Well, that is a dangerous misconception. There are various types of skin cancer, and none should be taken lightly as they can, and have, resulted in death in some cases.

The WHO (World Health Organization) has estimated that 65,000+ people die each year from melanoma. And, while melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, there are two other types that have resulted in deaths as well.

Have I stressed enough yet the importance of protecting our skin? If so, read on. If not, read again.

Sunscreens and Sunblocks

In order to know which is best for you, your own adult children and your grandchildren, you need to understand the differences between the two. Sunscreens work by using chemicals to absorb the UV radiation that comes from the sun. You will find they come with a number, or SPF (sun protection factor), which varies. The higher the number, the longer you are supposed to be able to stay in the sun before getting burned.

Sunblocks work by preventing the UV rays from reaching your skin.

The other difference is the transparency. A sunscreen is often transparent and will not be visible when applied correctly. A sunblock however, is visible and tinted or white. They are also more difficult to wash off than a sunscreen, but it’s because they are more protective.

Natural Sun Protection

If you want to eliminate the chemicals of sunscreens and blocks, and you might if you have allergies, then there are some natural ways to help protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun.

Here are a few:

  •     Hats – approximately 3-6 SPF
  •     Light weight clothing – approximately 6-7 SPF
  •     SPF clothing – approximately 30 SPF

There also sunscreen products sold that are organically made. So, you can get significant protection, without the chemicals.

As far as a natural sunblock, zinc oxide is very effective. It’s the only ingredient recognized by the FDA to have protection for both UVB and UVA rays. Another benefit is that it’s not absorbed into the skin and metabolized within the body, unlike chemicals found in sunscreens.

In Closing

Nobody is suggesting that you have your grandchildren stay out of the sun completely. In fact, some exposure to it is healthy and is a good source of vitamin D. However, there is a difference to being out in it getting some exercise while protecting your skin, and laying out in it for hours damaging the skin and adding significant risk for future health concerns.

About the Author

Kathy Barber is a freelance writer, co-owner of a medical practice, and a mom. She writes on a variety of topics including health, beauty, online business, home improvement, and home brewing. Her most recent top of sun protection was inspired by browsing through, as well as her own experience with sun damage. When Kathy is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and young son, camping, swimming, and sports.

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