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Your Summer Sun Essentials: Sunscreen

Your Summer Sun Essentials: Sunscreen

Will you be gardening, swimming, or working outside this summer? If so, you should wear sunscreen for these, and any, activities that may expose your skin to the sun.

Why? Because sunscreen protects your skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are present even on cloudy days. These rays not only can cause skin cancer, they also can trigger wrinkles, skin sagging, and age spots.

What Should You Look For in a Sunscreen?

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using a sunscreen that:

  • Offers broad-spectrum protection. This means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Has an SPF—sun protection factor—of 30 or higher.
  • Is water-resistant.

How Should You Apply Sunscreen?

Most people don't apply the correct amount of sunscreen, according to the AAD.

You should put on enough sunscreen to cover all of your skin not protected by clothing. Most adults need about 1 ounce of sunscreen—two tablespoons—to fully cover their body.

In addition:

  • Apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outdoors.
  • Be sure to apply it to the tops of your feet, your neck, your ears, and the part line at the top of your head.
  • Reapply about every two hours. You should also reapply after swimming or sweating. Follow the directions on the sunscreen bottle.

Does the Type of Sunscreen Matter?

Sunscreens come in many forms, from sprays to sticks to lotions. The best type to use is the one you'll apply over and over again.

Creams and lotions are best for dry skin and the face, according to the AAD. Sticks are good to use around the eyes.

Sprays are convenient, especially for use on kids. But keep in mind that it can be hard to know if all areas of the skin have been covered when you use a spray.

Sunscreens are sometimes sold as a mix of sunscreen and insect repellent. The AAD recommends against using these products. You want to use sunscreen generously and insect repellent sparingly. So it's best to buy these products separately.