Growing up in western Arkansas forced me to adapt to the sweltering summer heat and constant sweat found in this beautiful part of our state. I spent summers hauling hay, working my grandparents’ massive multi-acre garden, all hot work and of course, having a little fun along the way. As the article title indicates, we will be talking about summer fun and the hot summer sun with the main topic for July being sunscreen. Is it good or bad for us? I am not fond of sunscreen. I am the little child you see at the beach with the parent chasing them around the sand trying to slather them with greasy, heavy, white cream or lotion. It causes an oil slick on the surface of the pool and leaves an oily mark around the top of the pool where the water level is at any given time. Okay, there is the spray type that isn’t bad, but just not a huge fan. Just this once I had to include my opinion. Some experts believe that it has beneficial use while others feel that it is harmful to our health. This article will present the facts and allow you to make your own determination as to which it is: good or bad. Sunscreens have been approved in the U.S. by the FDA since 1978. What is sunscreen? Sunscreen, an active ingredient in creams, lotions and other preparations for the skin. Two ingredients such as oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate which are the primary ingredients that experts have the most concerns about. Both are thought to cause issues, such as cancer, but there is limited data that demonstrates that they cause significant health issues. As most of us have heard over the years, the ozone layer has continually been depleting. Thus, there is a need to shield the body from the harmful UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens are believed to prevent skin discolorations and cute freckles. What is a freckle? Freckle, a small patch of light brown color on the skin, often becoming more pronounced through exposure to the sun. Well, if anyone knows much about freckles, that would be me. By summer’s end, my resident, small, light brown patches become what I call a nice tan. Tanning can be made slightly safer if you do it for short periods of time, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 on your skin and re-apply frequently if swimming. Sunscreen is also known to slow down premature aging, or what we would normally call wrinkles. What is a wrinkle? A wrinkle, also known as a rhytide, is a fold, ridge or crease in an otherwise perfectly smooth surface, otherwise known as the surface of our skin. So, who needs sunscreen? Everyone. Anyone who spends any extended time with excessive skin exposure to bright sunlight. Using sunscreen products decreases the chances for sunburn and can prevent skin cancer or malignant melanoma. Let’s quickly talk about some of the information you will see when reading about sunscreen. SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor”, which I didn’t know. When you use a sunscreen that has a SPF 15, 30, or 50, it is believed that they allow you to spend more time in the sun and prevent sunburns, which can over time lead to skin issues. SPF is related to the total amount of sun exposure rather than simply the length of sun exposure. The amount of sun exposure a person receives is dependent upon more than just the length of time spent in the sun. The amount of sun exposure depends upon a number of factors, including the length of exposure, time of day, geographic location, season, and weather conditions. Did any of us ever think there was so much to know about a sunscreen? Here are the specifics about sunscreen use. First, buy one that has a broad-spectrum protection. Always remember that the sun’s rays are stronger with altitude, so you will need to use a sunscreen with a higher sun protection factor (SPF). Choose a sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher. Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat and seek shade frequently during the hottest part of the day, which is typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The effectiveness of sunscreen is reduced if it is applied incorrectly. Sunscreen usually needs 15-30 minutes to soak into the skin before you go outside or swim. Even if you are wearing a waterproof sunscreen, it needs to be reapplied regularly. We can all agree that sunscreen is of benefit, even to those like me who are, how did I put it, not fond of sunscreen. Let’s all be conscious of the need for it and importance of protecting our skin as we head to the pools, lakes, and work outside in the yards during the hot Arkansas summer.