As the weather warms up, you'll be spending more time outdoors. Now's a great time to consider how you'll protecting your skin from the sun’s harsh rays.
Types of sunscreen
There are two types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreen is absorbed by the skin. It then absorbs UV rays, converts them into heat and releases them from your body. The active ingredients in these sunscreens typically include avobenzone, oxybenzone and octinoxate.
Physical (a.k.a. mineral) sunscreen rests atop the skin, reflecting the sun’s rays. The active ingredients in these sunscreens typically include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Sunscreen tips and recommendations
Choose broad-spectrum protection.
Always select a sunscreen that offers both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) protection. UVB rays can cause sunburn and skin damage whereas exposure to UVA rays can increase your skin cancer risk.
Use at least SPF 15.
SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor, absorbs and reflects rays from the sun. The higher the SPF number, the more protection it provides. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends selecting a product that contains an SPF of 15, at minimum. However, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends choosing a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. While it’s okay to choose a sunscreen with a higher SPF (e.g., SFP 50), do not be fooled into thinking you can remain in the sun for longer periods without reapplication. For example, SPF 50 offers only slightly more protection than SPF 30.
Apply 15 minutes before heading outdoors.
Your skin does not absorb sunscreen immediately. So, be sure to apply it at least 15 minutes before you plan to go outside, even on days that are slightly cloudy or cool.
Don’t skimp on the ‘screen.
Many people fail to use sufficient sunscreen, which can lead to sunburn, skin damage and even skin cancer. For adults, the AAD recommends using approximately an ounce of sunscreen to cover all body parts exposed to the sun. And don’t forget those easy-to-overlook areas, like your ears, neck and feet
Reapply sunscreen regularly.
Sunscreen wears off over time. Reapply it every two hours or more frequently (typically 60 to 90 minutes, but check product label for guidelines) after sweating or swimming.
Use backup protection.
Unfortunately, no sunscreen provides complete protection from sun damage. Therefore, it’s a good idea to utilize backup measures, such as lip balm with SPF, sunglasses, wide-brim hats and tightly-woven long-sleeved shirts. You may also protect skin by seeking shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest.