5 tips for staying safe while soaking up some sun

Sunscreen is a great tool to help prevent skin cancer, and it also helps prevent early skin aging and sunburns. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreen for anyone who is planning to spend time outside. Below are some helpful tips about how to get the most out of sunscreen to stay safe in the upcoming warm, sunny weather.

1) Choose an SPF of at least 30.

SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of the sun’s harmful rays. There is no sunscreen that blocks 100 percent of the rays and coverage only goes up about 1 to 2 percent as SPF increases, whereas cost of sunscreen will increase for a higher SPF. SPF 30 will provide adequate coverage against the sun’s harmful rays as well as save you a little money in the long run.

2) Select “broad” coverage that is water resistant.

Broad coverage includes protection against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can cause early aging of skin including wrinkles and age spots. UVB rays are considered harmful rays because they cause sunburns. Water resistant does not mean waterproof. Sunscreen that is water resistant will stay on in the water for about 40 minutes. If the bottle says very water resistant, that includes coverage for up to 80 minutes. Water resistant does not mean you do not have to reapply, it just adds extra protection while swimming or sweating.

3) There are pros and cons to each formulation.

There are several types of sunscreens including sprays, lotions, and sticks. Lotions are best because having to rub it into your skin provides best coverage. Sprays are easier to use and take less time, but it is important to follow the directions on the bottle and use enough to benefit. Sticks are good for application around the eyes, and lip balms are also available for the lips.

4) Apply a generous amount of sunscreen BEFORE going outside.

Most people do not use sunscreen appropriately and end up applying only 25-50% of the recommended amount. Sunscreen should be applied on all bare areas of skin exposed to the sun 15 minutes before going outside. The AAD recommends using one ounce, which is one shot glass full, of sunscreen each time you apply. Sunscreen should also be applied every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.

5) Cover skin, and wear a hat and sunglasses in addition to sunscreen.

The sun is its hottest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In these hours it is best to either seek shade if outside or stay indoors. Covering skin or wearing hats and sunglasses is a good add on method if you need to be outside during these times. Water and sand reflect the damaging rays of the sun, increasing likelihood of sunburns, so take extra precaution while at the beach and use good sunscreen technique. Following these tips this upcoming season will help keep you safe from the sun’s harmful rays and allow for worry-free fun in the sun.