Posted by Bill Dubert

He may look happy and keep your plants growing, but he wants to destroy you. The shades and smirk are a dead giveaway.

Hopefully, by now pretty much every regular gardener knows that gardening without some sun protection can be damaging to your skin and health. Many gardeners use sun shirts and hats to keep themselves protected, and this is a great way to be safe. Sunscreen is also a viable way to keep yourself safe from the sun’s harmful rays, but there are a few things about sunscreen that you might not know.

  • SPF 30 blocks about 97% of the suns harmful UV rays. What most people don’t realize is that studies have shown that SPF ratings higher than 30 also only block about 97% of these rays, so the difference is negligible. It’s important to remember this, as very high SPF numbers give a lot of people a false sense of security, leading them to use less sunscreen or stay out in the sun longer.
  • SPF ratings only apply to UVB rays. Make sure to use a quality sunblock that blocks UVA rays as well. Sunscreens with titanium dioxide, avebenzone, or zinc oxide all provide good UVA protection.
  • You need to really slather it on. Studies have shown that most people use significantly less sunscreen than is required for full protection. Some of these studies have even suggested that most sunscreen users apply 10% or less of what they should, which can greatly reduce the protection the sunscreen provides.
  • Reapplication guidelines on the bottle of your sunblock isn’t just to sell more sunblock. Your sunblock not only comes off of your skin fairly easily, but also loses potency as it is is exposed to UV rays. Don’t go more than two hours between reapplications. Seriously.
  • Some people say, “Well, I’m already burned, I can skip the sunblock.” This is the opposite of the case. Skin that is sunburned can actually be more susceptible to the sun-induced mutations that can, over time, cause skin cancer.

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