If you remember just 15 things about sunscreen, these are the 15 to know. They’ll help you forgo sunburns, prevent skin cancer, and make you a better global citizen.
1. Keep It Broad-Spectrum
Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
2. SPF 30 or Higher
Don’t think that higher is drastically better, though. SPF 30 absorbs 97% of UV rays. SPF 50 absorbs just 1% more at 98%.
3. Apply Liberally
Put on 1 ounce of sunscreen to your entire body. That is an amount in your hand about the width of a golf ball.
4. Apply Early
Once you’ve stepped outside is too late to apply sunscreen. For best protection, put it on 30 minutes before sun exposure.
5. Reapply Often
For general use, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Do it more often if swimming, sweating, or towel drying.
6. Reapply Spray Sunscreens More Often
Spray sunscreens aren’t absorbed by the skin like products that are rubbed in. They tend to wipe off easier, requiring more frequent reapplication.
7. “Waterproof” Isn’t a Thing
No sunscreen is waterproof and legally can’t claim to be. The FDA requires sunscreen claiming to be water-resistant to state either 40 or 80 minute protection.
8. Check the Expiration Date
If a sunscreen doesn’t have an expiration date, consider it to be good for 2-3 years.
9. Sunscreen in Cosmetics?
Many skincare products include sunscreen. Only rely on products that are SPF 15 or higher. Even then, they are not intended for heavy sun exposure.
10. Not for the Littlest Ones
Sunscreen is not recommended for infants under 6 months old. Instead, use shade and coverage for sun protection.
11. Apply Before You Travel
You can sunburn through your car windows. Most car, plane, and train windows allow UV rays through which can lead to sunburn. Tip: Your local window tinting company can add UV protection to your car windows.
12. Consider Mineral
Physical sunscreens using zinc and titanium are growing in popularity. They are gentler for sensitive skin. Mineral sunscreens are also better for the environment.
13. Banned in Hawaii
Chemical sunscreens using oxybenzone and octinoxate do severe damage to reefs. Because of this, Hawaii, Key West, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have banned their sale. Mineral sunscreens are the sunscreen of choice in those locations.
14. There’s No Proof
A nasty rumor about sunscreen with vitamin A, or retinyl palmitate, has gone around claiming it could cause skin cancer. There is no data to support that claim.
15. Use More Than Sunscreen
The best sun protection is a 3-pronged defense: shade, coverage, & sunscreen. Enjoy a patch of shade in UPF 50+ clothing and apply sunscreen.
There you have it. Keep these 15 tips in mind to always use the right sunscreen in the right way.