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During the summer months, wearing sunscreen is an easy and effective way to protect your skin. Aside from the obvious redness and peeling of sunburns, sunscreen helps defend against premature aging and the development of skin cancer. The benefits of sunscreen are further enhanced if you apply it often and effectively. In combination with other sun protection methods, utilizing sunscreen this summer will ensure that your skin stays healthy, even during those long cookouts and trips to the beach.

Who should use sunscreen?

It is recommended that individuals with all skin types use an SPF of 30 or higher regularly. Even though the risk of skin cancer is often higher if you have paler skin, sunscreen still offers important protection to all skin tones. For adults and children who are at least 6 months old, studies have shown that an SPF of 100 is most effective, especially in beach settings when it comes to preventing sunburns. If your child is younger than 6 months, sunscreen use is not recommended, but you can still take other protective measures. These can include hats, protective clothing, and staying in the shade as much as possible. So on those family trips to the beach, it is important to make sure that everyone is well protected from the sun, no matter their age or skin tone.

How should sunscreen be applied?

Your application of sunscreen is very important to the amount of protection it provides. Often times, the amount of sunscreen applied is too little to provide enough protection from the sun, especially when using spray bottles instead of the lotion. When sunscreen is not applied in generous amounts, an SPF of 50 may only work to an SPF of 25. For a person with an average height and build, these are the recommended amounts of sunscreen that should be applied to your body:

  • Face and Neck: 1 tablespoon
  • Torso: 2 tablespoons
  • Each Arm: 1 tablespoon
  • Each Leg: 2 tablespoons

Aside from the amount of sunscreen, the timing of your application also matters when it comes to getting full protection. It is recommended that you wait 15-30 minutes after applying sunscreen to go outside, especially if you are planning to take a dip in the pool or the ocean. After cooling off in the water, or even if you are sweating under the hot sun, it is important to reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours to ensure that your skin is always protected.

How else can I protect my skin?

Aside from the use of sunscreen, you can take additional measures to shield your skin from harsh UV rays. Wide-brimmed hats can help to protect sensitive areas such as your face, neck, ears, and chest, which often see a lot of sun exposure. To shield your eyes, sunglasses with UV protection are important to remember on your way out the door. Wearing clothing with SPF properties is also a great addition to your sun protection, as it provides an extra layer between you and the sun. Along with staying in the shade as much as possible this summer, you can enjoy some time outside without having to worry about buying a bottle of Aloe Vera.