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Sunscreen comes in many different forms today, from lip balm and sprays to lotions and gels…the options can seem overwhelming, especially when you aren’t sure which ones work best. No matter which type you choose, what’s important is to apply it correctly. So many are quick to blame the sunscreen when they become burned, but it’s not the product that’s at blame. Staying safe in the sun requires us to not only use sunscreen but to read the label and apply it properly. Here are some tips to keep in mind when stepping out into the sunshine that will maximize your sunscreen’s protection.
- Use a brand that offers UVA and UVB protection. This will ensure your skin is safe from ultraviolet-B rays, which cause sunburns and skin damage, and ultraviolet-A rays, which increase your chances of developing skin cancer. Brands that have zinc oxide or titanium dioxide also help block both types of rays.
- Use a brand that has an SPF 30 or higher. While using a sunscreen that is high in SPF is great at protecting your skin, don’t make the mistake of many and assume that since the number is high, you won’t need to reapply as often. So many make the mistake of thinking that since the SPF content is high, this means they can stay in the sun longer without reapplying as often as you would with one that has a low SPF. Even if you’re using SPF that is higher than 30, still treat it as if you’re wearing SPF 30 and apply often while outdoors. SPF protection doesn’t increase with the number. This means that while SPF 30 can absorb 97% of the sun’s rays, SPF 50 could absorb only 98% more.
- Apply onto the skin before going outdoors. So many people wait until they’re already outside to apply sunscreen. However, it can take the skin up to 30 minutes to absorb the sunscreen. Apply one ounce to every part of your body that will be exposed (including your ears, feet, and back of the neck) and allow at least 30 minutes for it to dry.
- Apply more sunscreen every two hours. It’s easy for sunscreen to wear off after a few hours, especially if it’s exposed to water and sweat. You’ll need to apply at least one ounce to your body every two hours to stay protected. For those using a spray sunscreen and those participating in swimming or activity that creates sweat, you’ll need to apply every hour to 90 minutes. Spray sunscreens wash off easily and elements such as water, snow, and sand can cause a greater burn to the skin.
- Use other items to stay safe in the sun. This includes a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher, a hat that is tightly woven and has a wide brim, sunglasses with UV protection, and a dark-colored long-sleeved shirt or sun-protective clothing. You could also stay out of the sun from 10AM-4PM, which is when the sun’s rays are the strongest.