YOUR BURN­ING QUES­TIONS ABOUT SPF AN­SWERED

Beth Thomp­son caught up with der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr. Paul Co­hen, owner of the Rosedale Der­ma­tol­ogy Cen­tre in Toronto, for the 411 on all things sun­screen

Best Health - - THE BUSY WOMAN’S -

BT: Does us­ing SPF stop vi­ta­min D ab­sorp­tion?

PC: Too many peo­ple be­lieve that us­ing sun­screen leads to vi­ta­min D de­fi­ciency, and that the best way to ob­tain enough of it is through un­pro­tected sun ex­po­sure. Yes, us­ing sun­screen de­creases vi­ta­min D ab­sorp­tion, but in all hon­esty, sun­screen doesn’t block all UVB rays from reach­ing your skin; SPF 30 blocks 93 per­cent of UVB and SPF 50 fil­ters out 98 per­cent. This leaves any­where from 2 to 7 per­cent of so­lar UVB reach­ing your skin. The truth is, it doesn’t take much sun ex­po­sure for the body to pro­duce vi­ta­min D. In my opin­ion, the risks of sun ex­po­sure out­weigh this ben­e­fit, and I will stand by us­ing a sun­screen ev­ery day.

More im­por­tantly, the sun isn’t the only way to get vi­ta­min D. There are health­ier al­ter­na­tives in­clud­ing diet and sup­ple­ments. You can eas­ily take an oral sup­ple­ment (1,000 – 2,000 units a day de­pend­ing on age and health). In food, fatty fish such as tuna, mack­erel and sal­mon are good sources, and many com­mon foods such as milk and or­ange juice are for­ti­fied with vi­ta­min D. Food, sup­ple­ments and in­ci­den­tal, pro­tected sun ex­po­sure will give you all the vi­ta­min D you need, with­out sub­ject­ing your­self to the risks of un­pro­tected sun ex­po­sure.

BT: If you put on SPF at 9 a.m., but don’t go out in the sun un­til noon are you still pro­tected?

PC: I rec­om­mend ap­ply­ing sun­screen 10 to 15 min­utes be­fore sun ex­po­sure. That said, if you ap­ply your sun­screen at 9 a.m., stay in­doors and avoid any sweat­ing, exercising or swim­ming, you should still be quite pro­tected. As a gen­eral rule, reap­ply ev­ery two hours when in con­stant sun ex­po­sure.

BT: Can we talk tech­nique? I see peo­ple rub­bing lo­tion into their hands ahead of ap­ply­ing it to the body. Does that waste prod­uct?

PC: The best tech­nique is what­ever works to have you ap­ply it con­sis­tently and cor­rectly. The more im­por­tant part of ap­pli­ca­tion is en­sur­ing that you are ap­ply­ing the proper amount to skin (re­gard­less of how much stays on your palms). You need to use a shot glass for a full ap­pli­ca­tion; al­ways ap­ply a thick, lib­eral layer to all ex­posed skin and reap­ply of­ten (at least ev­ery two hours). Too many peo­ple un­der­uti­lize sun­screen, ap­ply­ing too thin a layer to get the full pro­tec­tion fac­tor.

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