7 Sunscreen Tips to Save Your Skin

MakenzieR on 23 May 2012 at 4:00pm

National Sunscreen Day

If there's a holiday RealSelf should definitely celebrate, it's National Sunscreen Day on May 27. Anytime someone asks our doctor community how to prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging, their #1 tip is to wear sunscreen daily.

Unfortunately avoiding UV damage isn't always as simple as "my moisturizer has SPF 15." To help you avoid the risks of too much exposure, we turned to dermatologist Dr. Susan Van Dyke and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) to bring you these 7 facts about proper sun protection:

Anything greater than SPF 50 provides the same protection

"A 50 SPF blocks 98.00% of UVB light (the burning rays) while a 100 SPF will block 99.00%,” says Dr. Van Dyke. “This level of benefit [to either] is of course contingent on applying enough and reapplying frequently."
 

Makeup and moisturizers with sunscreen aren’t always enough
Unless your makeup/moisturizer provides broad spectrum sunscreen and is reapplied throughout the day, it isn’t enough protection for all day sun exposure. According to ASDS, it’s find if “you are only walking to your car from work or going into the store...But if you are going to spend a few hours outdoors, then you need to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen."
 

You need to reapply every 2 hours

"The active ingredients in sunscreens break down when exposed to UV light. To maintain the SPF on the label you need to keep reapplying as the ingredients lose effectiveness: every 2 hours, more often if you sweat or swim," says Dr. Van Dyke.
 

It’s not a free pass to suntan all day

"Sunscreen is not 100% even in the best of cases (applying an ounce every 2 hours and after swimming)," warns Dr. Van Dyke. "Realistically speaking few of us follow guidelines perfectly. If you really want to save your skin, the best approach is to use sunscreen, cover up (hats, sunglasses, SPF clothing) and seek shade."
 

Tanning oil with SPF 10 doesn’t count

“Less than an SPF of 15 will not protect you from the cancer causing side effects of sun exposure,” says Dr. Van Dyke.
 

You should use one ounce to cover your whole body

According to ASDS “Research shows that many people put on about half of the amount of sunscreen they need, so be sure to lather it on. Also, don’t forget your lips – use lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher.”
 

Don’t wait til you’re in the sun to apply

“Sunscreen should be applied one-half hour before going outside, giving the skin time to absorb it,” says ASDS.
 

The next time you're picking out sunscreen, here's what you should look for:

  • Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide
  • Minimum SPF 15, ideally 30
  • Broad spectrum UVA/UVB (UVB causes burns, but UVA is also damaging to the structure and health of skin)
  • Water resistance if you'll be swimming or sweating

Do you have a favorite sunscreen for summer sun? Share it with us in the comments below.


Photo credit: haveseen/Deposit Photos

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