The sun we boaters worship can make us look like an old shoe or kill us with the ultimate bogeyman — cancer. Most “sunscreens” and “sunblocks” (interchangeable terms) contain chemicals that transform ultraviolet (UV) energy into harmless wavelengths before it reaches your skin; other ingredients physically block the rays.
Here’s The Deal:
Sun protection factor (SPF) measures UVB protection, indicating numerically how many times longer than an unprotected span you can spend in the same-intensity sunlight before burning. Even SPF 2 cuts UVB reaching your skin by one-half.
But UVA, not UVB, causes melanoma. And there is no FDA-approved rating system for UVA protection. Guard against it by using a “broad spectrum” sunscreen with the chemical screener avobenzone and the physical blockers titanium oxide and zinc oxide; check the ingredients panel.
-Most damage occurs before age 18; hence, lather up the kids!
-The FDA recommends broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 15 or greater. Apply it 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 1½ to two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
-A 150-pound person with a 32-inch waist needs one ounce of sunblock to achieve its maximum effect.
-An alcohol base or carrier evaporates quickly, leaving no mess on your hands.
-“Water resistant” means the SPF rating is intact after 40 minutes of water exposure; “waterproof” means it’s good for 80 minutes.
-Most sunblocks are now “PABA-free,” eliminating paraaminobenzoic acid, an early UVB-blocker that stained clothes and bothered some people.