Don’t skimp on the sunscreen if you want to protect your skin
It’s that time of year again, when a lot of us are going to be spending more time outdoors. Kids are out of school and families are going on vacation, and it’s wise to brush up on the basics when it comes to skin care and protection from the sun. Even if some of this information about sunscreen sounds familiar, it can only do you good if you put the advice into practice!
What kind to use
Look for a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, preferably one that contains zinc oxide. Women should not assume that their makeup—including foundation or moisturizers—provides enough sun protection. They should wear a separate sunscreen, and always apply it first. There are now many brands on the market created just for faces that contain zinc oxide but don’t have that greasy feel.
Make sure it’s fresh
Sunscreen has a shelf life of 12–18 months, so toss anything you got before the beginning of last summer. Store sunscreens in a cool place when you’re not using them.
What SPF to use
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to how strong the sunscreen is, by a factor of time. An SPF of 10 allows you to stay in the sun ten times longer without burning than if you were wearing no sunscreen. That means you should pick a product based on your own skin coloration, the time you plan to spend outside, the amount of shade, and the degree of cloud cover. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends daily application of SPF 30.
Don’t fall for high SPF labels
Be careful: If you use anything higher than SPF 50, you might become deluded into thinking that you’re safe and mistakenly stay in the sun too long. Even if you don’t burn, this exposure can still cause damage to your skin.
How much to use
Most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen to get the benefit of the SPF level it says on the bottle. Remember to use two to three tablespoons for the whole body. That’s the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen.
When to put it on
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out in the sun, because it gives your skin a chance to absorb it (and you’re less likely to look like a white greasy ghost). Then apply another coat just before you go outdoors, to ensure protection. You want to avoid direct exposure to the sun and try to stay in the shade as much as you can between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. And don’t forget to drink lots of water whenever you’re out in the sun for any extended period.
How often to reapply
Reapply often—more often than you’d think: Every two hours, even if you aren’t doing anything but sitting around. Remember that if you’re sitting in the sun on a hot day, you’re probably sweating (even if you aren’t exercising), and that can affect the effectiveness of sunscreen.
We hope you’ll keep these suggestions in mind this summer as you plan your outdoor activities. With a little extra planning and precaution, everyone can enjoy the sun, stay safe, and protect their skin.
This article is part of the Harris Casel Institute’s weekly blog. We conveniently offer many career training programs at our campus in Melbourne, FL. Contact us online for more info!