Open Accessibility Menu

A Guide to Sunscreen

A Guide to Sunscreen

We’re coming up on spring break and summer, so our outdoor time will likely increase. While spending time outdoors in the sunlight is necessary for our health, protecting yourself from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays is also necessary.

There’s nothing cool about painful sunburns, early wrinkles or a raised risk of skin cancer. And yet that’s just what too much UV exposure can bring. But sunscreen can help prevent all of these unwanted side effects. Below we give you some important information about what sunscreen to purchase, how to apply it, and why it’s important for your kids, too.

Check the Label

When shopping for sunscreen, make sure you choose one that:

  • Offers broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays
  • Has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. This dermatologist-recommended level of protection blocks 87% of the sun’s rays.
  • Is water-resistant

Application Rules

It takes about 15 minutes for sunscreen’s protection to kick in, so it’s important to apply it before you go outside. If you wait to apply sunscreen until you are in the sun, your skin is unprotected and can burn.

It’s also critical to reapply at least every two hours. But put some more on immediately after you swim or sweat excessively.

Use Enough of the Stuff

Many people make the mistake of using too little sunscreen.

Experts recommend using at least one ounce – about the amount you can hold in the palm of your hand – to cover exposed skin. This includes the face, ears, arms, hands, nose, neck and feet.

It’s also important to use a lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips.

Slather Up the Kids, Too

Follow the label instructions when applying sunscreen to children’s exposed skin. If you have a baby younger than six months, keeping them in the shade to protect their sensitive skin is best.

You’ll also want to help your family avoid getting too much sun. For instance, encourage everyone to seek a shady spot whenever possible. And before you head outside, hand out some wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.