Protecting your skin is always a top priority during summer.
It is estimated one in five Americans will develop skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Avoiding ultraviolet light — a risk factor for all types of skin cancer — could prevent more than 3 million skin cancer cases annually.
Always wear sunscreen to protect against sunburn and for long-term prevention of skin cancer, Kole says, particularly at the beach, where the sun is very strong.
- A broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is best; always choose sunscreen that is water-resistant.
- When it comes to choosing between pricier sunscreens and generic, either is OK as long as it is at least SPF 30 with UVA and UVB coverage.
- Apply three times more sunscreen than what feels needed, for children or adults. “To be properly protected, put on so much sunscreen that it takes a real effort to rub it in all the way.”
- Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 20 minutes before going outside and reapplied at least every two hours to maximize prevention of sunburn. When swimming, sunscreen should be applied more frequently, even if it is waterproof.
- Minimize sunscreen use on children younger than 6 months old, Kole recommends. Keep young babies in the shade, and dress them in sun-protective clothing — long-sleeved rash guards along with a hat and sunglasses — which, along with sunscreen, is good advice for older children and even adults, too.
- Sunscreens that contain physical blockers, like zinc-oxide or titanium dioxide, are preferred for infants and toddlers because they may cause less irritation to the sensitive skin of young children.
- Kole says she generally recommends lotion or cream sunscreens over the sprays. “The current FDA regulations do not apply to spray sunscreens, and these may be applied ineffectively if not rubbed in thoroughly or sprayed on windy days.”
- Choose an oil-free sunscreen if skin is acne-prone. “Look for the phrases ‘non-comedogenic’ or ‘won’t clog pores.’”
- Do not rely on makeup with sunscreen in it. “I recommend a moisturizer with sunscreen applied daily under any makeup products.”
“Proper use of sunscreen and sun-protective clothing can not only prevent a horrible sunburn but can also reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging in the future,” Kole said.