That hot orange friend of ours is out in full force. Your sunscreen should be, too!
You know the drill by now: to prevent skin cancer, stay out of the sun, wear protective clothing and, of course, use sunscreen. But which sunscreen? And when?
The experts at Hoag’s comprehensive Melanoma Program weighed in with their advice: find a sunscreen you like and use it daily.
Chemical vs. Mineral? Finding a sunscreen that you like enough to use daily is far more important than whether the sunscreen is chemical, mineral or some kind of hybrid.
How Much? The American Association of Dermatology advises all of us to apply an ounce – that’s enough to fill a shot glass – of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen over every part of our bodies that will not be covered by clothes a good 15 minutes before going outside.
How Often? In order for the sunscreen to work most effectively, it must be reapplied every two hours and whenever we dry off after spending time in the water.
How Are We Doing? Not great. Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. Plus, we tend to only think about sunscreen when we’re in our bathing suits. UV rays can penetrate your skin through a window in the office. So apply that sunscreen daily!
UVA vs. UVB? Some dermatologists recommend looking for a “Broad-range” sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB exposure. Ultraviolet A (long-wave) and ultraviolet B (shortwave) rays affect the skin differently. But for adequate sunburn and skin cancer prevention, we need protection from both types of rays.
Which SPF Should I Choose? Don’t dip below SPF 30, which blocks 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. The higher the SPF, the more UVB rays are blocked (though nothing blocks 100% of the sun’s UVB rays). And remember that the SPF number has nothing to do with time. You’ll have to reapply an SPF 50 every two hours, just like you would an SPF 30.
Want more advice, prevention/screening or treatment information? Consult the experts from the Hoag Melanoma Program, by calling 949-7-CANCER.