Well everybody, spring is fast approaching and it's almost time to think about protecting your skin over the long, hot summer. We hear everyday that sunscreens are important and that we should use them all the time, whether we are skiing on sunny mountain slopes or baking like cookies on a beach. But how does sunscreen work?

Sunshine contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation, a type of powerful energy that can cause sunburns and even cancer on unprotected skin. Sunscreens contain chemicals that block out the UV. Some of these chemicals are zinc oxide, and para-aminobenzoic acid, or PABA. The energy of sunlight is converted to heat energy when it meets the sunscreen; instead of "sinking into" your skin, it simply scatters off as it cools.

All suncreens come with a Sun Protection Factor, or SPF. To learn how long a sunscreen will protect you in the sun, multiply the SPF by the amount of time it takes for you to start to burn. If you normally get pink after 10 minutes in the hot sun, and you wear a 10 SPF sunblock, you will be protected from burning for 100 minutes.