July is the time for some “fun in the sun.” However, before you engage in summer outdoor frivolity, don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen. Why is sunscreen so important? It prevents sunburns, which can result in long-lasting damage to the skin and more importantly, it decreases your risk of developing skin cancer. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. So this summer, be a responsible sun worshipper and heed these facts about the importance and benefits of using sunscreen.
- Protects your skin from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun; the ozone layer is depleting, which means our body needs sunscreen as an added protection from these harmful rays.
- Keeps you looking young; while “fun in the sun” is great for your tan and vitamin D production, it’s also the cause of premature aging of the face. Lathering up with sunscreen is the best prevention for wrinkles and leathery skin.
- Prevents brown spots on the face and helps keep your skin tone even.
- Protects from sunburns; suntans are cute … sunburns are not and can sometimes be painful.
- Protects all skin types; yes, those with lighter skin tones are more at risk of getting skin cancer, however, don’t be fooled by the myth that if you have a darker skin tone, you won’t get skin cancer. People of color are more likely to have late-stage skin cancer diagnoses
- Is important to wear every day, even on cloudy and rainy days. Those are the days you’re more likely to burn!
- Is safe, easy to apply and comes in several options (creams and sprays, various SPF levels). Many sunscreens are built into most daily moisturizers.
- Should be reapplied every two hours (to the face, arms and legs) Don’t forget to apply lip balm with sunscreen on your lips!
- Combined with other safeguards from the sun (clothing, shade and hydration), protects from more than sunburn; sunscreen can lessen the risk of heatstroke and heat exhaustion, as well.
Sunscreens – So Many Options
Sunscreen now comes in many options – spray, cream, stick, water resistant, mineral, and in SPF 15, 30, 50 and higher. How do you select the right sunscreen? It boils down to preference and the level of protection needed for your skin type.
Here are factors to consider when selecting sunscreen:
- Spray sunscreen is a great option especially for children. It’s easy to apply, but the key is to apply generously and reapply often.
- Moisturizers, lipsticks and foundations containing sunscreen are great for everyday use when not spending much time outdoors.
- Mineral or hypoallergenic sunscreens are available for those with sensitive skin or those who would like to avoid chemical sunscreens. These sunscreens are absorbed into the skin and provide protection without irritation.
- Water-resistant sunscreen is formulated to stay on the skin even after getting wet. Like regular sunscreen, it is important to reapply every two hours.
- Sunscreen sticks are ideal for spot application on the nose and ears, two areas of the face that are most prevalent to being affected by skin cancer.
- Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and SPF 30 or higher are recommended.
It may require trying several different sunscreen options before making a final selection, or you can seek out recommendations from a Board certified dermatologist.
Some Common Sunscreen Mistakes
- Using too little sunscreen
About one ounce or a palm full of sunscreen is recommended and is enough to cover the arms, legs, neck and face of an average adult.
- Not reapplying sunscreen every two hours
Apply sunscreen even more often if you are swimming or sweating.
- Believing that “waterproof” sunscreen will last all day
Typically, waterproof sunscreen lasts 40 to 80 minutes.
Best rule of thumb? Don’t be stingy with the sunscreen! Use lots of it and use it often.