With summer at your doorstep, it’s time once more for sunny outdoor adventures! But before you jump into some beach volleyball or long bike rides, you owe it to yourself to stay protected against the sun.
Dr. Jared Heaton, a Dermatologist in Billings, Montana, says it's important to remember: "There is no such thing as a health tan. The best thing you can do to keep your skin looking young and healthy and prevent fine lines and wrinkles is to use sunscreen on your face daily."
Let’s talk about the best ways to stay safe against those harmful rays!
Two Types of Rays to Keep Away
Most people probably don’t know that there are two different types of UV rays: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). Although UVB rays are the only ones that cause sunburn, UVA rays also contribute to the risk of skin cancer. Instead of burning the surface of our skin, UVA rays sink in deeper and cause wrinkles.
Getting the Right Kind of Sunscreen
To find your perfect Prince Charming of the sunscreen world, you’ll have to keep an eye out for a few different things. First off, choose an option with broad-spectrum protection — this means it will protect against both types of UV rays.
Protecting Against UVA
This is where ingredients really come into play. To guard yourself against UVA rays, flip over your bottle of sunscreen and see if it contains any of the following: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone or zinc oxide. At least one of those will get the job done.
Protecting Against UVB
Now here’s where we take a close look at SPF (sun protection factor). It works like this: The SPF multiplies the normal amount of time it would usually take you to get a sunburn. So if you’d burn in 15 minutes without sunscreen, applying an SPF 15 would allow you go 225 minutes before getting sunburned. SPF 15 is fine for most people, but if you have fair skin, a history of skin cancer or are taking photo-sensitizing medicine, you might want to increase the SPF.
Apply Like a Pro
Sure, applying sunscreen seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth noting a few of the finer points people might not be thinking about. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the best use out of your sunscreen:
- Go for a water-resistant sunscreen if you’re going to be in the water or sweating a lot. In FDA terms, “water-resistant” means the SPF will work up to 40 minutes after getting in the water — so don’t forget to reapply!
- Speaking of which, you should reapply every two hours no matter what.
- Lather yourself up 15-30 minutes before you expose yourself to the sun.
- Don’t let your sunscreen expire — that’s a real thing.
- Wear sunscreen even if it’s not sunny. About 80% of the sun’s UV rays still get through on an overcast day.
- Wear chapstick or lip balm that protects against the sun too.
- Apply at least one ounce (one shot glass worth) to cover your whole body.
Dress for Sun Safety Success
Who says you can’t accessorize on a sunny day? Start by protecting your eyes with a pair of stylish sunglasses that have 99% to 100% UV absorption. Broad-brimmed hats and dark, tightly woven clothes are a couple of other ways to really keep those harmful rays away.
Hopefully this all helps you prepare for a fun and safe day out in the sunshine this summer!