Can’t imagine heading to the beach without sunscreen? Good for you! But it’s important to stay safe from the sun whenever you head outdoors, not only when you’re lounging on the sand or playing in the surf.
The sun’s rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes and unprotected sun exposure can lead to wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancer. Children are more sensitive to the sun than adults—and having one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles the risk of melanoma.
Year-round use of sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect against the damaging effects of the sun. It’s important to know how to apply sunscreen the right way so you’re well-protected. It’s also a good idea to slip on sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when you’re outside.
Here are 5 tips for applying sunscreen properly:
- Choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Select a product with broad spectrum protection that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. It should also be water-resistant. Sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks out about 97 percent of the sun’s UV radiation.
- Check the label. Make sure your sunscreen hasn’t expired. Sunscreen past its expiration date may be less effective.
- Use about an ounce of sunscreen. This is about the amount that fits into the palm of your hand.
- Apply sunscreen before heading outside and reapply often. Put sunscreen on about 30 minutes before you go out and rub it in well. Reapply after swimming or sweating, even if you use a water-resistant variety. You should also reapply every 1 ½ – 2 hours for added protection.
- Cover all the bases. Make sure you use sunscreen on all exposed skin, remembering hard-to-reach places and areas that are easy to forget, such as your ears and the tops of your feet.
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Date Last Reviewed: June 19, 2017
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD