In Canada, sunlight is strong enough to cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Sunscreen is a product that protects the skin from the damaging ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun. Sunscreen comes in many forms, such as lotion, cream, gel, spray or stick.
Sunscreen absorbs UV rays and prevents them from penetrating the skin. Make sure your sunscreen offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays (labelled “broad spectrum”). All sunscreens allow some UV rays to penetrate your skin, but broad-spectrum will give you the best protection.
Sunscreens are rated by the strength of their sun protection factor (SPF). The SPF number refers to the product’s ability to screen or block out the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Sunscreens are available with a SPF ranging from 2 to at least 100. Sunscreens with higher SPF ratings block slightly more UVB rays, but none offer 100% protection.
Remember, no sunscreen can block all of the sun’s rays, so use sunscreen as a backup in your sun protection plan.
People can use both sunscreen and insect repellent to protect their health.
Be sure to read and follow the instructions on both containers to make sure that each product is applied properly.
Health Canada recommends that if you apply both products, put the sunscreen on first, followed by the insect repellent.
Apply repellent sparingly on top of clothing or only on exposed skin.
Don’t spray aerosol or pump repellent products directly onto your face. Spray the product on your hands and then rub it carefully over the face, avoiding the eyes and mouth.
Always oversee the application of insect repellent on children. Try not to apply insect repellent to a child’s hands. This will help reduce the chance of them getting the repellent in their eyes and mouth.
Try different sunscreens until you find the one you like. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you need help choosing a sunscreen.
Health Canada regulates the safety and quality of sunscreens in Canada. Sunscreen products are classified as drugs and must meet Canadian requirements.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.