Sunscreen is crucial to your skin’s health all year round. That’s why it’s important that you ensure you’re using it to its fullest effect, and avoiding common mistakes that plenty of people make each day.
Perhaps you’re worried you’re over-using sunscreen, but odds are you’re actually doing the opposite. You should use about one ounce of sunscreen on any parts of your skin that are open to sun exposure. Sunscreen works by either deflecting or absorbing the harmful ultraviolet radiation contained in sunlight. Having a layer of sunscreen that is too thin will not fully protect you from sun damage. If you need a visual aid, the amount of sunscreen you need to apply each time would fill a shot glass. Odds are, that’s more than you’re using, but that’s okay. You aren’t alone. Going forward, keep this amount in mind and know that too much is far better than too little.
Sunscreen is not just meant for a day at the beach or a backyard barbeque. Sunscreen should be an everyday component of your life. It goes far beyond just summer, as well. The sun might be closest to the northern hemisphere during these summer months, but its rays are always carrying ultraviolet radiation within them. That means that even in winter, even through the clouds, sunlight can cause sun damage. You may not get a sunburn after being outside for 15 minutes in October, but your skin is being damaged by sunlight. As that damage accumulates, skin cancer can develop as skin cells attempt to repair themselves. Sun damage is also the main contributor to the appearance of aging skin. This is especially true of the face, resulting in dryness and the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Many makeup products and facial moisturizers now contain sunscreen, though in higher intensity sun seasons, a higher SPF sunscreen will be necessary.
Sunscreen is excellent, and it’s by far the most important tool in protecting your skin from the sun. But there are parts of your body that may be covered by clothing that you don’t apply sunscreen to. Additionally, sunscreen is not a perfect product. Sweating, swimming, and time can all render your sunscreen ineffective. Even waterproof sunscreens are not fully waterproof. All sunscreen becomes less effective in water, calling for more frequent reapplications.
Additionally, even if you are out of the water and not sweating, your clothes might not be doing enough. Seek shade whenever possible, wear clothing that has a UPF rating (these are clothes specifically designed to block UV radiation, and wear sunglasses. It’s actually possible to get sunburn on the whites of your eyes, and there’s no other way to protect them but with a good pair of sunglasses with UV protection.
Sunscreen bottles do have quite a bit of instructions and warnings on them, but it’s important that you actually read them and use the product as directed. Our advice? Read the bottle before you’re out already. Some simple things that people often miss by ignoring the instructions are critical to using it correctly. For example, did you know that you should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you’re outside? This gives the product time to absorb into your skin. If you apply it right before engaging in outdoor activity, you’re going to sweat it off and lose its protective qualities.
So, you put the recommended amount of sunscreen on in the morning, and you’re good all day—right? Wrong! Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours or as instructed by the product itself. Sometimes, if you’re engaging in intense physical activity or swimming you may need to reapply it even sooner.
The label is important, so read up! Make sure that your sunscreen is 30 SPF or higher, or else it’s not working hard enough. They make lighter sunscreens for various reasons, but an SPF of 30 is the minimum for how well it’s going to work. Even if sunscreen says that it’s sweat proof or waterproof, it’s going to have some special instructions on how to use it to its fullest potential.
With these misconceptions in mind, you are off to a good start on better using your sunscreen to protect your skin. If you’ve got more questions or concerns about how you use your sunscreen, you’ve come to the right place—call Northeast Dermatology Associates today!
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