7 Ways to Use Sunscreen Properly: Savvy and Safe Sun Protection

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April 11, 2014

It’s Spring and the sun is shining, so that means sunscreen time, right? Not at all! Skin care experts and dermatologists recommend we wear SPF skin lotions year round. And when you do slather on your SPF lotion, there are some factors to consider.

Making the right ingredient choices and applying sunscreen at the right time helps us protect our skin in the best way possible. And when it becomes a habit, we can remember to do it as a daily routine year round.

7 Ways to Use Sunscreen Properly:

Timing: Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before you head outside. Don’t wait until you are in your chair on the beach in the blazing hot sun because at that point you can have up to 30-45 minutes of unprotected sun exposure.

Amount: Think of a shot glass. That’s the amount an average size adult needs to cover their body properly. Many people use less than ideal amounts.

Reapply: Follow time guides on the bottle and reapply as stated. Many last a few hours and less in the water or if you are sweating heavily. All sunscreens should be reapplied every 2 hours.

Head to Toe: Don’t forget ALL parts of your body, like the tops of your ears, feet and backs of legs. It’s best to apply before you get dressed if possible so you can reach every last bit of skin you have.

The Numbers: Look for an SPF of 30 -45. This is the most recommended coverage by dermatologists who often say that when people buy an SPF of 50 or above, they feel more protected and are less apt to reapply.

The Ingredients: Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are 2 of the power houses of ingredients and are safer than some alternatives like oxybenzone. However, all sunscreens offer protection and dermatologists say the risks of skin cancer from sun damage outweigh the risks of cancer from the chemicals at this point.

Spray or Slather: Though spray sunscreens have taken over big shelf space, stick to slathering on for a few reasons. You will cover your entire body without half of it ending up in the air and on the floor. Also the consequences of breathing it in daily are not known. If you’re alone and can’t reach your back however, sprays do offer an advantage at times.

7 Myths About Sunscreen:

Higher is Better: An SPF of 100 works better than an SPF 30. Not true, it only offers 1% more protection and it still needs to be reapplied every 2 hours.

I’m Good! Putting SPF on the morning is good enough for the day. See above.

Just the Exposed Areas: Only put SPF on areas of skin that are not covered in clothes. See above.

15+15 Does Not = 30: Layering does not offer extra protection, but it could help if you are afraid you missed any spots.

I’m Tan (Or Have Dark Skin): Some people mistakenly think only pale skins need SPF. ALL skin needs SPF.All ages over 6 months and all skin colors.

It’s Cloudy: Even on cloudy days, 80% of the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate the skin.

Ditch The Old Sunscreen: Though a bottle, when used properly, should only last a few weeks, the FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years.

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