Summer Sun Safety Month: Sunscreen Mistakes
Using sunscreen correctly is essential for effective sun protection and prevention of skin cancers. Here are some common sunscreen mistakes:
Not Applying Enough: Many people don't use enough sunscreen, leading to inadequate protection. The recommended amount is about 1 ounce (or a shot glass full) to cover the entire body.
Not Reapplying Frequently: Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or more often if swimming or sweating. Failing to reapply can reduce its effectiveness.
Using Expired Sunscreen: Sunscreen has an expiration date and using it after that date may result in reduced effectiveness. Check the product label for the expiration date.
Not Using Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen: Some sunscreens only protect against UVB rays, but for comprehensive protection, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that also blocks UVA rays. Look for products with "broad-spectrum" on the label.
Applying Sunscreen After Sun Exposure: Applying sunscreen after being in the sun won't reverse the damage caused by UV rays. It should be applied before going outdoors.
Overlooking Lips and Ears: Lips and ears are often neglected when applying sunscreen. Protect these sensitive areas with SPF lip balm and sunscreen.
Relying on High SPF: High SPF values (e.g., SPF 100) may provide a false sense of security. The difference in protection between SPF 30 and SPF 100 is minimal, and no sunscreen offers 100% protection. Proper application and reapplication are more critical.
Using Sunscreen as a License to Stay in the Sun Longer: Sunscreen is essential, but it's not a reason to stay in the sun for extended periods. Seek shade and limit sun exposure during peak hours.
Not Applying Sunscreen on Cloudy Days: Clouds don't block all UV rays, and you can still get sunburned on cloudy days. Use sunscreen regardless of cloud cover.
Neglecting Sunscreen in Winter: Sunscreen is not just for summer; snow can reflect UV rays, increasing exposure during winter activities.
Remember to always follow the instructions on the sunscreen product label and consult reputable sources for sun protection guidelines. Sunscreen is just one part of a comprehensive sun safety routine, which also includes seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and using sunglasses.
AAD - Sunscreen FAQs (aad.org)
CDC - Sun Safety (cdc.gov)
FDA - Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin from the Sun (fda.gov)
Skin Cancer Foundation - Sunscreen FAQ (skincancer.org)