By Woman’s Day
Wearing sunscreen daily is a must to lower your risk of developing skin cancer. But the type you choose and how to apply it makes a difference, too. Read on to ensure you’re approaching sun protection the right way.
Go for broad protection.
The label should say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection.” (Or just look for the new Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.) The reason: UVB rays cause you to burn and increase your risk of skin cancer, but UVA rays break down skin elasticity, which causes wrinkles and lines, says Albert M. Lefkovits, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Any sunscreen you buy should also have an SP F of at least 15—which means that you can theoretically stay out in the sun 15 times as long as you could without any protection before burning. (SP F 30 is even better.) Remember to reapply at least every two hours.
Put sunscreen everywhere…
like the skin on and behind your ears, the tops of your feet and the part in your hair. Many people forget about these sensitive areas, which can result in painful burns and the possibility of cancerous growths, says Vernon Sondak, MD, chair of the cutaneous oncology department at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. Another effective way to protect easy-to-forget areas? Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Don’t save sunscreen for the beach.
“Sun damage is cumulative and every little bit counts, so remember to apply before outdoor activities like gardening and walking the dog,” says Kristinn Vazquez, deputy director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Stratospheric Protection Division. A good rule: Anytime you’re going to be outdoors for longer than 10 minutes (especially during the peak of the day), make sure to cover up.
Sensitive skin? Skip gels and waterproof formulas.
“Gels typically have more alcohol, as well as an ingredient called propylene glycol, which many people are allergic to,” says Dr. Lefkovits. Waterproof is also a potential problem. “Water can’t get in, but sweat also can’t get out—which can cause breakouts,” says Dr. Sondak. Opt for a creamy lotion instead.