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Seeking best protection from summer sun


According to the National Climatic Data Center, between June and August, about 70 to 85 percent of Central Oregon’s days are sunny. With the extra sunshine comes the added risk for skin damage.

Kim Sanchez, a mother of three, spends much of her time under the sun during the summer. The threat of skin damage is always on her mind, so she keeps the sunscreen within reach.

“Yep, I carry it in my purse, all the time, and apply it every time we’re going to be outside,” Sanchez said Friday.

She makes sure to put plenty of sunscreen on her family every time they plan to spend the day under the sun.

“I apply it onto them (children) a few times throughout the day, especially when they’re swimming or in the water,” Sanchez said.

There is an assortment of different sun products to choose from, but dermatologist Stephanie Trautman says some are much better than others.

“I prefer physical sunscreen — that means they protect your skin by forming a physical layer between you and the sun,” she said. “The main ingredients that do that are titanium and zinc. So you want to look for those two ingredients.”

In terms of the Sun Protection Factor, Trautman says that anything higher than SPF 50 and SPF 75 does not provide any significant additional protection.

“After SPF 30, the benefit isn’t much greater,” Trautman said. “However, like I said earlier, we never apply enough sunscreen. If you’re using the 50 or higher, you may be getting a little more benefit because you’re not using enough, so I would say those are great.”

In addition to sunscreen, there are a few other easy tips to stay protected from the sun. The first is to use at least SPF 30 and re-apply every two hours. It’s also beneficial to avoid exposure during the most intense parts of the day.

“I would say to avoid the sun when it’s the most strong, between 10 am and 4 pm. You know, try to get your hike in early in the day or late in the evening,” said Trautman.

Another useful way to judge the intensity of the sun is by looking at the length of shadows. The longer the shadow, the lower the sun is in the sky and the less intense. When the shadow grows shorter, the sun is more directly overhead — and thesunlight is more direct and more damaging to unprotected skin.

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