Don’t forget the sunscreen

Don’t forget the sunscreen

Summer is all about fun in the sun. But too much sun can harm your skin, causing sun burn or even skin cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the US. Too much sun exposure can also cause premature aging of the skin and wrinkling. Applying sunscreen to exposed skin is an effective way to guard against the sun’s powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Sunscreens are available in many forms, including creams, gels, lotions, sprays, and wax sticks. Creams are best for people with dry skin, while gels are preferable in hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest. For added protection, choose a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, which keeps sunlight from penetrating deeply into the skin.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that, regardless of skin type, a water resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 should be used year-round.

SPF numbers can range from two to greater than 70. These numbers refer to the product’s ability to deflect the sun’s burning rays.

Apply sunscreen approximately 30 minutes before going outdoors. Pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands, and arms when applying. Remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating heavily. Lips get sunburned, too, so use a lip balm that contains a sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following tips for buying sunscreen:
  • Try a sunscreen with different chemicals if your skin reacts badly to the one that you are using.
  • Use a water-based sunscreen if you have oily skin or are prone to acne.
  • More expensive sunscreens do not necessarily mean they are better. A costly brand might feel or smell better, but it is not necessarily more effective than a cheaper product.
  • Be aware of the expiration date. Some sunscreen ingredients can degrade over time.
  • Sunscreen is not just for hot, sunny days. Even on an overcast day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can pass through the clouds.