Your Personal Best: Sunscreen
It’s no secret that we’re in the middle of a long, hot summer. If you’re outside for any length of time and are lacking in the melanin department, odds are good a sunburn is in your future. Unless, of course, you take proper precautions and pick the right sunscreen, said Dr. Milady Murphy.
“It’s important to wear some type of sunscreen to protect our skin against harmful UV rays, according to the American Dermatology Association and the American Cancer Society,” Murphy said.
But ensuring you’re fully protected isn’t as easy as picking a bottle at random, she said.
“First, make sure in the labeling you see the words ‘sun protection factor’ or SPF number to be 30 or higher,” Murphy said. “That gives you at least 97% protection and coverage.”
You also want to see “broad spectrum” on the labeling, she said, because that means the product covers both UVA and UVB rays.
“These are the rays that increase the risk not only of skin cancer, but premature wrinkling and aging of the skin,” Murphy said.
“Water-resistant” is another useful thing to see, and it’s mandatory if you’re swimming or engaging in any activity in which you’ll sweat.
But once your sunscreen is on, you’re not finished. Reapply according to your bottle’s label, but in general you’ll want to do so every 40 to 80 minutes.
“If your skin is sensitive, especially as we age, look for mineral-based labeling,” Murphy said. “That means it will have less reaction on your skin as opposed to chemical-based products.”
All sunscreens offer some type of protection, but also consider layering up with hats, long sleeves and sunglasses, Murphy said.
Skin damage happens to everyone, and sunscreen can protect your skin and help prevent cancer even if you never get sunburned.