Choosing the Correct Sunscreen

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The American Cancer Society recently reported that over 1 million people a year are diagnosed with sun-related skin cancer in the US.

This is a frightening statistic, and is one that surely could be reduced through the proper use of sun cream.

Which SPF is Best?

Anyone who’s ever bought sunscreen will know that each one has a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating, and that a higher SPF number generally means better protection from the sun (and sunburn in particular).

Most sunscreens fall between SPF 2 and SPF 50, with SPF 30 being the most popular.

Most dermatologists will tell you never to use a sunscreen with an SPF rating of less than 15 (as it’s practically useless).

With SPF 30 sunscreen, you’ll stay protected for a good amount of time and you’ll still be able to develop a tan.

Note that SPF numbers represent a sunscreen’s level of protection from the sun, not the duration it’ll protect you for. For example, SPF 50 sunscreen won’t protect you for longer than SPF 15 sunscreen.

SunscreenIf you have fair skin and tend to burn easily, you might want to consider using SPF 40 or SPF 50 sunscreen.

Note that no matter how strong a sunscreen/sunblock claims to be, it will never completely block out the sun’s rays.

Even SPF 50+ sunscreen only blocks out the rays that stop you from being sunburnt and not the ones that cause your skin to age, so always remember to exceed caution.

Lastly, It is important to remember your surroundings. In countries that are close to the equator (and therefore close to the sun), the need for sunscreen becomes more apparent. The same can be said for times when you’re high up (i.e. up a mountain) where the air is thinner.

Using Sunscreen Correctly

Sunscreen should be applied liberally around 20 to 30 minutes before you expose your sun to the skin (if possible). This gives your skin enough time to absorb the sunscreen before exposure.

How much should you put on?
It is recommended that you use around 1 ounce of sunscreen per application. This should be enough to fill a regular sized shot glass.

How often should you reapply sunscreen?
Most experts will tell you that it should be reapplied every 2 hours. If you’ve been sweating a lot of swimming during this time, however, you’ll need to reapply it more often.

Can you use insect repellent and sunscreen at the same time?
For those traveling in hot countries where insects (particularly mosquitoes) can be a problem, insect repellent becomes just as important as sunscreen.

Yes, you can apply both of them together, but the effects of both will be reduced. The best way to do this is to apply the sunscreen first, then after 20-30 minutes (once the sunscreen’s been absorbed) to apply the insect repellent.


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