‘Tis the season of increased outdoor activities, and also the time of year when our mouths fall agape after hearing things like… “It’s cloudy outside. I don’t need sunscreen.” or “I’m just going to do some gardening, not laying out at the beach. I don’t need sunscreen.” Um… YES, you most certainly do!
No matter what specific brand of fun in the sun you plan to enjoy this summer (or any time of year), just remember the importance of using sunscreen daily. Since May 27th is Sunscreen Day, it felt like a good day to spread the message, the love, and… the skin protection.
8 Things You Should Know About Using Sunscreen
1. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
2. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays, the two types of ultraviolet radiation that damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.
3. SPF – or Sun Protection Factor – is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Here’s how it works: If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – about five hours. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job of protecting against UVB.
4. But… no sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication.
5. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons or about a shot glass full) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapply the same amount every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
6. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months. Keep newborns out of the sun, since their skin is highly sensitive to the chemical ingredients in sunscreen as well as to the sun’s rays. Shade and protective clothing are the best ways to protect infants from the sun.
7. If it’s cold or cloudy outside, you DO need sunscreen. Up to 40 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day.
8. It’s never too late to start protecting yourself. A recent multi-center study showed that we get less than 25 percent of our total sun exposure by age 18. In fact, it is men over the age of 40 who spend the most time outdoors, and get the highest annual doses of UV rays. And since adult Americans are living longer and spending more leisure time outdoors, preventing ongoing skin damage will continue to be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to choosing a sunscreen, we turn to Melanoma Warrior Timna Understein who has bravely battled this disease twice since 2008, along with a Primary Acquired Melanosis of her left eye in 2012. Timna told us she looks for a mineral-based (zinc and titanium dioxide), broad-spectrum, non-nano, no fragrance, no chemicals, SPF 30+ sunscreen.