Sunscreen Strategies

Protecting Your Skin From the Sun

Capt. Steve Dougherty March 24, 2009

As a South Florida native I’ve had my fair share of sun exposure. Throw in travels to balmy tropical locales, and my fair complexion just can’t take it anymore. Anytime I head offshore or deep into the backcountry, I’m not only outfitted with the proper tackle and equipment but equally as important, a wide range of sunscreens and UV-protective apparel. I highly recommend you do the same. Bright, sunny days that lack cloud coverage are often the best days to be on the water because of the increased visibility and sight-fishing advantages. Who lays their head down at night hoping the next day will bring cloudy skies?

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Photo: James Overstreet/ESpnoutdoors.com

There’s not much you can say about sunscreen application. Everyone knows that if you’re going to be out in the sun for any duration of time, you need to apply sunscreen and depending on your particular complexion, you may be reapplying quite often. The one thing I can comment on is the thoroughness of your application. With traditional lotions you have a greater chance of a solid coat, while the newer sprays may lead you astray.

…I rely on high-performance technical UV-proof garments to aid in my fight against exposure to the sun.

Sure, we all realize applying and reapplying sunscreen is annoying and I’m definitely not a poster child for Hawaiian Tropic. When combating the sun’s powerful rays sunscreens are only half the battle. That’s why I rely on high-performance technical UV-proof garments to aid in my fight against exposure to the sun. The outdoor lifestyle we choose to live can’t be beat, and I want to make sure that I can enjoy it for many years to come.

Technical Wear
A recent trend that has been very popular within the fishing community is the introduction of Buffs (www.buyabuff.com) performance headwear. This innovative yet simple and versatile garment serves as a multifunctional sun protective headwear that can be worn in 12 different variations from bandana, scarf, face mask and balaclava to name a few. Manufactured with Coolmax Extreme fabric, Buffs are highly breathable and block more than 95-percent of harmful UV rays.

Performance fishing shirts from industry leaders like Columbia (www.columbia.com) feature moisture management systems and Omni-Shade sun protection equivalent to UPF 30. A long billed hat or visor is also a good addition and a quality pair of polarized sunglasses will be worth their weight in gold.

The SPF Question
With an increasingly vast amount of sunscreens on the market it’s easy to get confused. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun occurs in two main wavelengths – UVA and UVB. UVA is responsible for long term damaging effects while UVB is responsible for sunburns. Lotions that protect from UVA rays are generally indicated as Broad Spectrum.

When it comes to the SPF craze the bottom line is that a higher SPF number will generally offer more protection. One thing you may not be aware of is that once you reach SPF 30, the increase in the level of protection to a higher SPF is very minimal. In terms of effectiveness in filtering UVB rays, the difference between SPF 30 and 60 is extremely small, so if you believe SPF 60 is twice as effective as SPF 30, you are mistaken.

Serious Sun
According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer accounts for approximately 11,000 deaths each year. While not all cases of skin cancer are preventable, Melanoma, the most serious type, can be treated and cured when detected in its early stages.

Burn Baby Burn!

No matter how careful and protective you are you’re eventually going to get burned. Water-based moisturizers and aloe products will help soothe the burning and itching sensation. If you have to go back out in the sun cool, loose clothing will help prevent your burn from worsening.

Sun Protection Tips

  • When applying sunscreen use a generous amount and reapply often. Don’t forget to use sunscreen on cloudy and overcast days, too.
  • No sunscreen is totally waterproof. Even if a product is labeled as water resistant it needs to be reapplied every few hours.

Did You Know?

  • Ultraviolet reflection from the water doubles the amount of UV exposure.
  • A cotton T-shirt provides the equivalent of approximately 5 to 8 SPF.
  • Sunscreen should be applied at least 15-minutes before heading outside. Allowing for proper absorption plays a key role in sunscreen’s effectiveness.
  • Regardless of the SPF, sunscreen must be reapplied every 80-minutes.
  • Sunblock is a misleading term as there are no sunscreens that completely block UVA and UVB rays.

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