Summer is officially in full swing, so I wanted to do another post about summertime protection. A couple of weeks ago I posted about 10 ways to bug-proof your summer, so today I wanted to focus on another important topic – sunscreen. Scientists have discovered a lot about damaging UV rays since I was a kid, and the data all points to the same conclusion. Sun damage can cause skin cancer, and regularly applying a quality sunscreen is one of the most effective ways of protecting your self from sun damage. So I thought I’d put together a list of tips, tricks, and myths about sunscreen, so that we can all protect our skin while we’re enjoying the outdoors this summer!
Check The Label
- Look for a “broad spectrum” sunscreen, which will protect your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. Both types of UV rays can contribute to the development of skin cancer, so don’t make the mistake of protecting yourself against only one type.
- Look for SPF 30 or above when selecting a sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends SPF 15 at a minimum, so I like to go one step further, just to be safe. :-)
- If you’ll be sweating or swimming, look for a “water-resistant” sunscreen. Most of these sunscreens are only water-resistant for about 80 minutes, so make sure to reapply as recommended.
- Be mindful of the expiration date on your sunscreen! Sunscreen can become less effective over time, so write the expiration date with a permanent marker somewhere on the bottle, and toss the bottle out when it reaches the expiration date.
Tips for Applying Sunscreen
- If you’re alone when applying sunscreen, it can be hard to reach your own back and shoulders. Make it easier by applying your sunscreen with a wooden spoon! Wrap the spoon in plastic wrap, squirt some sunscreen on the end, then slather away!
- Always apply sunscreen before going outside, and give it 15 minutes to absorb into your skin after applying.
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your scalp! Most people forget to apply sunscreen in the part in your hair, and there’s nothing worse than having a sunburn flake off into your hair.
- Make sure to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours, at least! Use the timer or an app to remind you to re-apply!
- Make sure you’re using enough when you apply sunscreen. For whole-body coverage, pour out enough to fill a standard shot glass.
- There is no skin color or complexion that is immune from sun damage – everyone should wear sunscreen!
- Even if your makeup or moisturizer has sunscreen in it, it’s not enough for a day at the beach! You should still apply full-strength sunscreen every 2 hours.
- There’s really no such thing as “no-rub sunscreen.” Always rub in your sunscreen thoroughly, even if you’re using the spray kind, to avoid getting a splotchy sunburn.
- Even cloud coverage won’t protect you from a sunburn, so apply sunscreen even if you’re going out on a cloudy day.
- The notion that having a “base tan” can protect you from future sunburns is a myth. At best, an established tan provides an equivalent protection level of SPF 3 or 4. Any darkening of the skin is a sign of sun damage!
Miscellaneous “Good-to-Know” Info
- Some medications, like certain drugs taken to treat acne, can make you especially susceptible to UV damage. Read the labels on your medications carefully and be extra vigilant about applying sunscreen, and stay in the shade whenever possible!
- Antioxidant-rich foods can help reduce your risk of skin cancer. Drink teas, eat fish, and eat plenty of richly-colored produce, like berries and leafy greens.