Proper Use of Sunscreen

Sunscreen helps to prevent our skin from harmful Ultra Violet (UV) rays from the sun. These rays may cause skin cancer, and therefore it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect our skin. So irrespective of gender, age or race, everyone does need to use sunscreen as long as you will be exposed to the sun.

Statistics estimate that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Dermatologists recommend that you apply sunscreen anytime you are outside for more than 20 minutes; even during the winter season. The sun’s rays can begin to cause damage after just 15 minutes.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sunscreen

  • Level of activitySunscreen

Sun damage is higher in places of elevation such as mountains or reflective surfaces (water, sand, and snow). For these regions, choose one with both UVA/UVB (Ultraviolet A/Ultraviolet B) coverage and with an SPF (Sun protection factor) of 15 or higher. UVA rays cause premature aging and age spots while UVB rays are burning rays that cause sun burns.

Also, intense physical activities will sweat you out removing the sunscreen. Choose one which is water resistant with an SPF of 15 or higher.

  • Age

Not for use for children under six months. For six months and older, use the lotion form with a broad spectrum (both UVA and UVB) and an SPF of 15 or higher. Steer clear of alcohol based sunscreen products for this age group.

  • Skin

If you have oily skin, use alcohol or gel based sunscreen products. If you have dry skin, use lotions or a cream form of sunscreen. If your skin is inflamed or eczematous, avoid alcohol-based sunscreens,

  • Site of Application

For spray sunscreens, keep away from the eyes. For the lips, use a gel based or lip balm with sunscreen. For the ear and nose, use a physical agent of application. Sticks are suitable for use around the eyes.

  • Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert

If this is listed in the drug facts section, it means that its sole purpose is to prevent against sun burns and does not reduce early skin aging or the risk of skin cancer.

  • Expiration Date

Some sunscreens might degrade with time which reduces their effectiveness. Always check for expiry date when choosing one. FDA requires that these agents retain their protective layer for at least three years.

When to Apply Sunscreen

  • Apply at least 30 minutes before exposure to the sun for maximum absorption.
  • Reapply after strenuous exercise.
  • If you work outdoors, apply throughout the day and also wear protective clothing.

How to Apply Sunscreen

  • Apply a handful to cover your whole body; particularly the parts exposed to the sun (ears, back, shoulders, legs, back of knees, etc.)
  • Make sure to use enough; a thick coating preferably.
  • Care should be taken when applying around the eyes. The skin around this area is fragile and therefore, sensitive.
  • Dot it directly to your face instead of applying it on your hands first then your face. This will help it absorb quickly.
  • Apply the sunscreen before your moisturizer.
  • Be consistent with daily applications.
  • Touch up your sunscreen after every 90 minutes or so.
  • Reapply water resistant sunscreen after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Reapply every time you wash your hands.

Applying Makeup Over Sunscreen

  • Use makeup with some SPF protection for optimum protection. However, don’t rely entirely on those.
  • Before applying foundation, wait for at least 5 minutes for the sunscreen to set.
  • Use minimal pressure when blending in your foundation.
  • Powders with sunscreen will work great to add more protection through the day and touch up your makeup.

Surprisingly, you also need sunscreen when you are indoors and when you are driving. The UVA rays penetrate through your window panes, but window glass blocks the UVB rays. There is nothing like a harmless exposure even if it’s just for a few minutes. Those few minutes of walking to your car or going to the grocery store will add up over the years; this will accelerate the aging process or even lead to irreversible damage to your skin.

Eat healthy foods especially those rich in vitamin D, seek shade whenever possible and wear protective clothing such as hats, shades, or long sleeved clothes. Prevention is better than cure.

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