Tanning is a popular summer pastime, but it is dangerous, too. Excessive tanning and sun exposure can cause skin cancer, which, if left unchecked, can spread throughout the body, infecting other organs. Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen every day to prevent skin cancer.
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Broad-Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD), about 1 million people receive diagnoses of skin cancer every year in the United States alone. To minimize the risk, the AAD recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays go deep into the skin and weaken the body's immune system, making it more susceptible to diseases such as skin cancer. UVB rays cause the skin to burn and peel.
SPF 30 or Higher
The AAD recommends using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. SPF stands for sun-protection factor, and it is used to determine how well a particular sunscreen blocks the sun's damaging rays. Anything lower than SPF 30 is considered too weak to provide adequate protection.
The AAD also recommends that all sunscreens be water-resistant, especially if you plan on swimming or engaging in aquatic activities. If sunscreen is not water-resistant, it will wash off easily as soon as it comes in contact with water. As a result, the sunscreen's cancer-preventative effects will be negated. Using water-resistant sunscreen ensures that you will be protected in and out of the water.
Top Recommended Sunscreen Brands
According to a 2008 survey by Coolibar--a manufacturer of sun-protective clothing--the top five dermatologists' recommended sunscreen brands are Neutrogena, Coppertone, Aveeno, Blue Lizard and SolBar. The survey was conducted at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatologists. These brands manufacture sunscreen products that meet the AAD's criteria of effective and powerful sun protection.