Summer is quickly approaching, and you know what that means—no school, pool parties, family vacations, and a whole lot of sunscreen.
The latter is especially important for protection from harmful ultraviolet rays that could cause skin cancer. One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. To help reduce your chances of skin cancer–or even just a sun burn–check out these tips from CNN and the AAD about protecting your skin in the hot summer heat.
How Much to Wear
Most people only apply 25-50% of what they should apply. So how much is enough? It is recommended that you use a minimum of SPF 30 and choose a sunscreen labeled to be water resistant. A general rule for amount to apply is one ounce (the size of a shot glass) for your body and a teaspoon for your face. However, dermatologists encourage being generous with sunscreen application, and reapplying every two hours. Any skin that is not covered by clothing should be effectively coated with sunscreen.
When to Wear
Everyday. UV rays are always present, even on cloudy days. As a matter of fact, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds! In addition, sunscreen should be worn not just in the summer, but year round. While sand reflects 25% of the sun’s UV rays, snow actually reflects an astonishing 80%! So, whether your relaxing at the beach this summer or hitting the slopes in Aspen, be sure to lather up to help avoid potentially permanent damage to your skin.
What About My Lips?
The skin on your lips is very sensitive, and absolutely needs to be protected from the sun. Many lip balms now contain SPF. It is important to protect your lips from UV rays, because lip cancer is some of the most aggressive skin cancer. Try to find a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or greater to ensure effective protection.
Protection from Clothes
Cotton shirts are typically not enough to protect your skin from the sun, especially when wet. The SPF of clothing is called the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and for cotton clothing, the UPF is 8 when dry and only 2 when wet. Think about it—if you can get burned using even SPF 50 sunscreen, how much protection do you think UPF 8 will provide you with? Not much. If you really cannot stand sunscreen, your best bet is to invest in clothing material made out of a combination of spandex and nylon, such as a rash guard. Clothing like this, originally created for water sports, actually typically comes with a designated UPF. Look for one with UPF 50 or higher for the best protection.
These are just a few ways to make sure you are properly guarding your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It is estimated that over 65,000 people die from skin cancer each year. According to the AAD, a 2010 study concluded that sunscreen use actually cut the diagnosis of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, in half. Sunscreen really is the most effective way to protect your skin, and should therefore be used every day, come rain or shine. However, remember that sunscreen is most effective when used in plenty, so don’t be shy and reapply!