Here comes the sun – now, pull out the sunscreen


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Remember during the winter when you couldn’t wait to see the sun again? Well, it’s back, so now’s the time to get prepared with sunscreen.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five people in America will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. Heed these tips from the experts in UT Southwestern’s Department of Dermatology to protect your skin and stay safe all year long:

Every day for everyone

While sunscreen is certainly a requirement for outdoor summer activities, it is most effective when applied daily to all sun-exposed areas (face, neck, and hands). In whatever form (lotion, spray, or tinted moisturizer), sunscreen is a must for everyone age 6 months and older, no matter your skin type or color.

Remember, UV radiation can easily penetrate clouds. You can still burn on a completely overcast day.

Check the SPF

Sunscreen should be SPF 30 or higher, water-resistant, and protective against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays prematurely age the skin while UVB rays can cause burns. Both result in lasting skin damage.

Skin-friendly barriers

The gentlest sunscreens causing the least irritation and sensitivity are made from the physical blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

A primer for using sunscreen

Now that you have your sunscreen in hand, how do you use it? Follow these pointers, say our experts:

  • A small amount of sunscreen goes a long way. It takes only about two tablespoons (roughly the size of your palm) to effectively cover your entire body.
  • You need only a nickel-size amount to the face and neck. Allow it to dry before applying any other products (including makeup).
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tips of your ears, tops of your feet, and sun-exposed scalp.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after applying sunscreen before you go out into the sun.
  • Reapply your sunscreen every two to three hours during the day and after swimming or sweating. Sun protection is additive. Avoiding the sun during peak hours of the day and wearing sun-protective clothing in addition to your daily sunscreen will help keep your skin healthy and looking its best.