Mother applying sunscreen to child

Understanding sunscreen and how to protect your skin

A little sun is necessary for your body, but too much can be bad for your skin. That is because the rays of the sun can do damage to your skin and dramatically increase your risk of skin cancer. While staying out of the sun is your best defense against the damaging rays, you can still spend days at the beach, summers at the lake, and afternoons by the pool by protecting your skin with sunscreen. Importance of sunscreen becomes clear when you realize that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Luckily, there are several types of sunscreens that can save your skin while saving your summer. There is no denying sunscreen importance in reducing your risk of skin cancer, so learn the facts about sunscreen and skin cancer to see why using sunscreen is a bright idea.

The benefits of using sunscreen

If you’ve been in the dark about the need to wear sunscreen each time you’re in the sun, you’ll not hesitate to put it on once you discover the many benefits of sunscreen. One of the most important benefits is based on the link between sunscreen and skin cancer. Applying sunscreen every day, even when it’s rainy or cloudy, can protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun and greatly reduce your risk of skin cancer. While this is reason enough to slather yourself in sunscreen when you’re outdoors, there are several other benefits of using sunscreen. Sunscreen can also protect you from the sting of sunburns, prevent premature aging to keep you looking young, reduce the appearance of dark spots, and prevent skin discoloration. As you can see, using sunscreen daily is powerful protection against the dangerous rays of the sun.

The different types of sunscreen

While all sunscreens offer some level of sun protection, not all sunscreens are created equal. There are two main kinds of sunscreen. One is known as mineral sunscreen and the other is referred to as chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens work by producing a barrier above the skin to block UV rays, while chemical sunscreens protect your skin by absorbing UV rays. Mineral sunscreens are recommended if you have sensitive skin, but they may not apply very easily. Chemical sunscreens are easier to spread and come in water-resistant varieties, yet they contain chemical-based ingredients that may pose risks to the environment and your skin. So, which type is right for you? One of the best sunscreen tips is choosing the sunscreen that you’re most likely to use every day.

Many degrees of SPF

Why is SPF the standard when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun? SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This relates to how much a sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun’s two types of damaging rays, known as UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can go deep into the skin and can cause long-lasting damage, such as early aging and wrinkles. UVB rays burn the surface of the skin, which leads to immediate damage like painful sunburns and skin cancer. Sunscreens offer a number of protective benefits and the SPF number on its label tells you the level of protection you’ll have. See, sunscreens are tested to measure how much exposure to UVB rays it takes to cause a sunburn when wearing sunscreen compared to the amount of UVB exposure for a burn when you’re not wearing sunscreen. This number becomes the SPF value of the sunscreen. Experts recommend choosing a sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 and reapplying every two hours.

A broader approach

While the SPF number on a sunscreen only measures protection from UVB rays, many sunscreens are available that protect from both UVA and UVB rays. These are labeled as “broad spectrum” sunscreens and they protect from all UV exposure.

Get the most from your sunscreen with the correct application

Sunscreen comes in many different forms from creams and lotions to gels and sprays. But, the way you apply it can make a big difference in your level of protection. The following sunscreen tips can help keep you safe in the sun:

  • Use sunscreen every day, even when it’s raining or cloudy.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before going outdoors.
  • Use enough sunscreen to completely cover your face and body, which usually equals out to around two tablespoons of sunscreen.
  • Wait a few minutes for the sunscreen to fully absorb.
  • Reapply it every two hours, and immediately after sweating or swimming.

If you have any questions about sunscreen, speak to your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor to fully understand how using sunscreen can give maximum skin protection under the sun.