Whenever the weather starts to heat up, you can bet that the beaches will be full of families taking the kids for a refreshing swim and individuals trying to get some color on their skin. While most people love to get a little tan during the summer, it can be very dangerous to spend too much time under the sun, especially without sunscreen on. Just one sunburn could potentially increase your risk of skin cancer. Fortunately, you can protect yourself against harmful UV rays and reduce your risk of skin cancer by applying sunscreen every time you go out in the sun. To help sun-lovers everywhere, here's a list of tips and tricks to make sure you are applying sunscreen properly:
Choose the Best Sunscreen
- Purchase products that are labeled as "broad-spectrum" sunscreens. This means that they protect a wider variety of UV rays, including UVA and UVB rays.
- Don't choose sunscreen with a low SPF. Buy a sunscreen with an SPF factor of 15 or more.
- Buy waterproof sunscreens. Even if you aren't planning to swim, these sunscreens will stay on longer and will be less likely to come off if you sweat.
- Check the expiration dates on your old sunscreen products. The ingredients may lose their potency over time, so throw out any sunscreens that have expired.
Apply Sunscreen Carefully
- It's better to use a little too much than not enough sunscreen. Although some experts say that 2 or 3 tablespoons is sufficient for coverage, that can change depending on your size and how much skin you have showing.
- Cover all exposed areas evenly, giving special attention to your shoulders, neck and face which often receive the most sun.
- Don't miss the most commonly overlooked areas, such as your ears or the tops of your feet. If you plan to lie in the sun, you may need to apply a little sunscreen to your eyelids as well, being careful not to get any in your eyes.
- Sunscreen should be reapplied about once every two hours. This goes for any type of sunscreen, even those which are labeled as waterproof or water-resistant.
- Reapply sunscreen regularly regardless of whether skies are cloudy or clear. Remember that sunscreen should also be applied during the winter for extended periods of outdoor activity.
Special Types of Sunscreen
- If you have oily skin or your skin is prone to acne, there are certain sunscreens that may be better for your skin. Choose water-based sunscreen products for these skin types.
- Children should have a slightly stronger SPF in their sunscreen. Choose a product with an SPF of at least 30 for babies and children. Remember that infants who are 6 months or younger should not have any direct sun exposure.
Always wear sunscreen when you plan to be exposed to the sun, especially for extended periods of time. No sunscreen is completely resistant to UV rays or has the ability to prevent skin cancer, so limit your time spent under direct sunlight. See a dermatologist if you have any questions about your risk for skin cancer and how to help prevent it.