The ABCs of Sunscreen
To help protect you and your family this summer from painful sunburn and skin damage, follow these helpful tips on how to select and properly use the right sunscreen for your needs.
A. Things To Look For In A Sunscreen:
- Find a sunscreen with Broad Spectrum Coverage (both UVA & UVB coverage). UVA rays cause your skin to age, UVB rays cause your skin to burn, and both can cause cancer.
- Select a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 for optimal skin protection. If you’re fair skinned, SPF 30 or higher is recommended.
- If you are going to be in the water or sweating, choose a sunscreen with “Water Resistant” on the bottle. Sunscreens now offer water resistance for 40 or 80 minutes, indicating the amount of time it will stay on your skin and maintain its SPF level while wet.
- Avoid combination sunscreens with bug repellant, as they often contain penetration enhancers and could lead to increased skin absorption of the pesticide.
B. Tips For Applying Sunscreen:
- Average-sized adults and children need about 1 ounce of sunscreen (the size of a shot glass) to effectively cover exposed areas.
- Apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to sun exposure. This will give it time to effectively absorb into the skin.
- Apply evenly to uncovered skin. Remember your ears, nose, lips, back of neck, along your hairline, hands and top of feet. Avoid the skin around your eyes.
- Apply to the top of the head if hair is thinning, or wear a hat.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours for maximum protection.
- If you’re in the water or sweating, reapply water-resistant sunscreen as instructed on the label (either every 40 or 80 minutes).
- Spray sunscreens may present a safety concern if inhaled unintentionally. Never spray directly onto the face. Instead, spray it onto your hands and then apply.
C. Wear Protective Clothing:
- Tightly woven, light colored fabrics offer the most protection.
- Cover as much of the body as possible: Long-sleeve shirts, pants, shoes, hats and sunglasses.
- Wide-brimmed hats (optimally a 4″ brim) made of opaque, tightly woven material offer the most protection. If light shines through the hat, it won’t offer enough coverage.
- Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection. Make sure children’s sunglasses have 100% UV protection as well.
Additional information about sun care and new sunscreen regulations can be found on the FDA’s website