Get Out There

How to Use Sunscreen Better than You Do

We have all been there. We put on sunscreen, go out for a fun day and come home in the afternoon only to realize we’ve been burned. Then we run it through again in our minds, wondering if we made a mistake. But, no, we definitely put on sunscreen. If you’ve experienced this, you’re not going crazy. Most of us don’t use sunscreen as well as we should and aren’t getting the sun protection we expect.

In a survey of 1,000 adults in the U.S., 62 percent rated themselves as “excellent” at sun protection. Sixty-three percent said they had gotten a tan in the last year. And 33 percent said they had gotten a sunburn. Doctors say there is no such thing as a safe tan. You can get enough sun exposure and vitamin D without ever tanning.

There is no such thing as a safe tan,” said Dr. Mark Kaufmann, president of the American Academy of Dermatology. “Every time you tan or burn, you are also damaging the DNA in your skin.”  

In addition to not being excellent at sun protection, many people were confused about how sun protection works. Sixty-seven percent of people thought SPF 30 offed twice the protection of SPF 15. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UV rays; SPF 30 blocks 97 percent. SPF actually means how long you can be exposed to sunlight before you’ll start to tan. Sixty-five percent of people said they often didn’t reapply sunscreen. And, 43 percent of the respondents didn’t know that shade protects against UV light.

For the best protection, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen is your best choice. That protects you against UVB and UVA rays. You apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors. You should use at least SPF 30 and wear clothes that cover your skin.

People argue about whether to use lotions, creams, sprays or gels. The best one depends on your skin type, the activity you’ll be performing, where you are applying the sunscreen and your personal preference. If you hate the feeling of goopy sunscreen, while a spray may not be as efficient, it might be your best choice as you are more likely to use it! But if you use a spray, use multiple layers — a lot of it goes into the air, not your skin. You don’t get the coverage you think you’re getting.

If you like the look of a “healthy glow,” sunless tanning lotions are a safe option. They used to be terribly streaky and very orange. Nowadays, you can get very natural results with artificial tanning lotions that don’t require any sun. But, the fake tan won’t offer sun protection, so be sure to wear sunscreen on your skin after you have “tanned.”

With these tips, you can have a great day in the sun without burning and protect yourself from harmful UV rays!

Banner image: Anna Tarazevich via Pexels

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