The start of summer is a good time to think about sun exposure. The Boston Globe ran an article yesterday about the SHADE Foundation, established by Sondra Schilling (wife of Red Sox ace Curt Schilling), providing some tips on sunscreen use.Â It served a purpose in raising awareness, pointing out the need for a broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen, emphasizing the large amount of sunscreen required for effectiveness (even when the SPF is high), mentioning the importance of frequent reapplication, and pointing out that sunscreens expire and should be tossed.
But the article was actually kind of lame in two ways. It didn’t talk about alternatives and complements to sunscreen, such as wearing a hat, wearing sun protective clothing, or staying indoors. It also went out of its way not to mention any useful products.
Schilling says she and her family use a brand from Australia, where lifetime skin cancer rates are a staggering 50 percent. In Australia, sunscreen makers must be able to prove that a product protects against 90 percent of UVA light as well as UVB. By contrast, in the United States, the FDA has no criteria to judge the effectiveness of UVA protection — only UVB, which can be determined by the SPF. (Schilling said she is not an official endorser of any sunscreen.)
Why is the Globe so careful not to name names in this case? They could at least have mentioned some useful places to find more information. Here are a few resources:
- SHADE Foundation website
- The Green Guide reports on Sunscreens and Sunblocks (National Geographic)
- ConsumerSearch reviews of sunscreens
- Revolution Health’s Sun safety pageÂ