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Protecting your skin from the Caribbean sun

Many visitors don’t realize that the Caribbean sun is the strongest in the world.

By Lisa Mullins Bishop
Caribbean Edge Staff Writer


We all like to fantasize about whiling away the hours on the white sands of the Caribbean's fabulous beaches or in its crystal blue waters, but the reality can have a certain bite, or burn, to it. Spending an extensive amount of time in the Caribbean sun can result in a painful memento. Anyone spending time in the sun needs to take precautions to protect themselves and their skin. Follow these tips to make the most of your fun in the sun.

Start slowly by limiting your fun in the sun. Some experts recommend no more than an hour a day in the sun at first to avoid a bad burn. If you plan on spending more time in the sun, bring along a cover-up and reapply sunscreen frequently. After a few days, increase your exposure a bit more every day.

Bring along your favorite sunblock.While sunscreen is available in the islands, the selection is not as extensive as elsewhere. If you are allergic to certain ingredients in sunscreens, make sure to stock up on your favorite brand at home. Make sure that your sunscreen has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 35 or more to protect you from the intensity of the sun's rays.

Reapply your sunblock frequently--about every two hours. If you are using a waterproof sunblock, apply it 30 minutes before you enter the water so that it has timet o dry.

Don't forget to protect your head. Wear a hat or visor to shield your eyes and protect your scalp. Slather sunscreen on any exposed skin such as a hair part or bald spot--a burn here can be very painful.

Even water babies need protection. Snorkelers, swimmers, and scuba divers need sunscreen. Buy a waterproof or water-resistant sunscreen and apply it frequently--about every two hours. Swimmers and snorkelers should also wear a T-shirt in the water to protect their skin. The sun's rays can travel through the clear waters of the Caribbean.

Check your medication. Make sure that any medication you are taking does not increase your sensitivity to the sun. Some ingredients create photosensitivity to the sun. Take the necessary precautions to avoid a burn.

Drink plenty of water to make sure that you and your skin are hydrated.

Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun's bright glare. People with light-colored eyes are more susceptible to eye damage from the sun than those with dark-colored eyes.

If you do burn despite your precautions, use an aloe vera-based product to relieve the sting. If you have a fever, see a doctor or other medical professional.

The Skin Cancer Foundation grants a Seal of Recommendation to products that contain SPF15 + sunscreen that meet the highest standards for safety and effectiveness. Here are a few well-known and widely available sun protection products that carry this seal.

COPPERTONE
Coppertone Shade Sunblock Lotion SPF 45
Coppertone Endless Summer Ultrasheer Sunscreen SFF 45
Coppertone Spectra3 Lotion SPF 50
Coppertone Spectra3 Lotion SPF 50
Coppertone Kids Sunblock Lotion SPF 40

BANANA BOAT
Banana Boat Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 50
Banana Boat Maximum Sunblock Lotion SPF 50
Banana Boat Maximum Sunblock Spray Lotion SPF 48
Banana Boat Active Sport Sunblock Spray Lotion SPF 48
Banana Boat Kids Sunblock Spray Lotion SPF 48

HAWAIIAN TROPIC
Hawaiian Tropic Ozone Sunblock SPF 70
Hawaiian Tropic SPF 45 Plus Sunblock
Hawaiian Tropic Sport SPF 45
Hawaiian Tropic Barbie Broad Spectrum Spray Lotion SPF 45




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