Ultra-violet (UV) rays are emitted from the sun and travel to the earth in wavelengths. The UV wavelengths are very small, but they contain high levels of energy which penetrate human flesh, changing the structure of the skin cells. Some of these skin cells are assigned the job of producing melanin which creates a brown coloring. This is how the tanning process is activated. Melanin provides varying degrees of natural protection from sun damage. Individuals with darker skin have more melanin than those with fair skin, therefore more natural protection.
UV rays are classified into 3 regions according to the frequency of their wavelengths (see Skin Layers and UV Penetration Graph). The wavelengths are so small they are measured in nanometers (nano=one billionth of a meter). Infrared radiation (760 - 3000 nm) can also be harmful to the skin, resulting in squamous/ basal cell carcinoma and direct skin-aging changes.
Sunscreen products contain ingredients which help in absorbing, reflecting and/or scattering UV rays. These products are formulated to provide various levels of protection from UVA, UVB, and IR rays. The Sun Protection Factor rating system has been established by the Food and Drug Administration to measure primarily the amount of UVB sunburn protection the product will provide. No rating system has yet been established for measuring UVA protection.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) indicates how much longer an individual can be in the sun before becoming burned when using a sun protection product, than if he or she did not. For example, a fair skinned person who would normally start to burn after 10 minutes in the sun would receive 15 times that with an SPF 15 (150 minutes or 2 1/2 hours). If a person with darker skin takes longer to burn without protection, say 20 minutes, an SPF 15 would give him 300 minutes (5 hours). Reapplication using the same SPF reinforces the initial protection, but does not add time to the protection period. Application of a significantly higher SPF may extend the protection period, but should not be relied on if you suspect sunburn has begun to occur. Then it's time to seek shade.
It was once widely believed that a 15 SPF product offered sufficient UV protection under most conditions. Over the last few years that school of thought has changed. It is now known that, often more sun protection is desirable.
It is ideal to select a sunscreen that blocks enough UV rays to adequately protect your skin type. Use the Sun Protection Factor Guide to help determine your skin type and appropriate SPF. If you have very fair or sensitive skin, a history of skin cancer, or take photo-sensitizing medications, you may need a higher SPF.
Extended periods of sun exposure also call for a higher SPF. Hawaiian Tropic® Sun Care offers a full range of sun protection products up to 80 SPF.
UVB rays are the burning rays and are stronger during the summer months. The UVA rays that cause long term damage to the skin are prevalent year round. IR rays are the invisible, heat rays that affect your skin much like a heat lamp. Look for products which offer protection from all three.
Be aware of incidental sun exposure. This occurs during such routine activities as walking the dog or standing outside chatting with a neighbor. Daily use of sun protection can significantly reduce the potential health risks associated with exposure to UV rays and can help prevent long term damage.
All sunscreen products are classified as over the counter (OTC) drugs and are regulated by the FDA. It is not a current requirement to include expiration dating on sunscreen products as long as "products are proven stable for at least 3 years as supported by appropriate stability data."
Hawaiian Tropic® products are subjected to rigorous testing procedures to assure strength, quality and purity. Data is generated on each Hawaiian Tropic® product to comply with regulatory requirements and to assure that Hawaiian Tropic® sunscreens maintain their protective level for 3 years or more. Consumers may consider discarding unused portions of sunscreens after 2 years. "When in doubt, throw it out." If you would like to know when a particular product was manufactured, please include the name of the product and the code number inkjet printed on the bottle with your e-mail or written inquiry.
First of all, avoid sunburn! In the unfortunate event it happens, a burn relief product which includes aloe vera, such as Hawaiian Tropic® brand's Cool Aloe® After Sun Gel, can be used to moisturize and soothe the sunburned areas.
A physician should be consulted in the case of severe sunburn. DO NOT use butter or petroleum based ointments. DO NOT allow further sun exposure until your skin is completely healed.
Sunless tanning products were designed as an alternative to sun exposure for a tanned appearance. The key ingredient is dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, which reacts with the amino acids in the upper layers of the skin to produce a brown coloring. No dyes or bronzers are used.
For best results, use the sunless tanning product after showering and exfoliating the skin. Rinse skin well; other skincare products, such as moisturizers, soap residue, etc. can interfere with the action of the DHA.
Apply generously and evenly, blending quickly until lotion is completely absorbed. Use sparingly around hairline, knees, ankles, and elbows. Wash hands with soap and water immediately after application. Avoid contact with clothing until product dries. Allow 2-3 hours for results. Apply again if darker color is desired; reapply once daily to maintain color. Initially, more than one application may be required to reach the desired color.
The color produced by a sunless tanning product does not wash off; it simply fades as the upper layers of the epidermis wear away. You can try to speed the exfoliation process by scrubbing the skin with a washcloth or loofah sponge. It may take a week or more for the "tanned" skin to disappear.
It is best to receive gradual sun exposure in small increments of time until a good base tan is developed. For example...the first day of exposure, use your appropriate sunscreen and lay out for 30 minutes. Day two, try adding 5 or 10 minutes. If you aren't getting red, add 5 or 10 more minutes the next day. This allows your skin to properly develop melanin without burning. Use a tanning lotion or oil to moisturize and condition the skin during exposure. Also, it is important to use an after sun lotion with aloe vera to help hold your tan longer.