Sunscreen Tips for Summer

woman applying sunscreen to her nose while hiking

Sun protection is crucial in prevention of skin cancer and aging changes. Use sunscreen daily with SPF 15 or more and UVA blockers (it will say on the bottle whether it is a UVA blocker, most are).  For recreational or work exposure in bright sun use SPF 30.  Apply 1x daily in the winter and every few hours in the summer. It is best to apply it 15-30 minutes before going outside.  Other forms of sun protection such as staying in the shade when possible and hats with wide brims help tremendously.

How much to use: The average adult needs about one ounce of sunscreen to cover the body.  Most people use too little and do not reapply often enough.  One thought is to put on what you usually use and then do it again.  Reapply in 2-3 hours and more frequently if you are in and out of water.  Don’t forget your feet, ankles, ears, neck (front and back), and lips.  A lip balm with SPF 30 is available.  If the sunscreen runs into your eyes, you can try using one of the sticks (texture like Chapstick) for the face or using the lip balm with SPF just above the eyebrows to keep the lotion from getting in your eyes.

Recommended sunscreens:

Titanium and zinc oxide containing sunscreens have natural ingredients with broad-spectrum coverage.  Mexoryl, helioplex, or cinnamate offer good protection.  If you tend to get acne choose non-comedogenic sunscreen.  If you have sensitive skin avoid fragrance.  Many people are allergic to PABA so you may want to avoid that.

Hats and clothing: any hat with a broad brim works.  Some nice ones are Tilley hats which are available online.  Caps only  protect the middle part of the face.  Light colored, long-sleeve clothing protects the body.  Rit makes a laundry additive which adds SPF to clothing.  Sunglasses are crucial for protecting the eyes and also protect delicate skin around the eyes to some extent.

What about getting enough Vitamin D?  400 IU daily recommended.  Best to take as an oral supplement.  Even without sunscreen it is difficult to get enough vitamin D to meet this requirement and if you are fighting dark spots or precancers  on the skin, you need to use sunscreen consistently for success.