What's the Real Deal with Sunscreen

Sunscreen is important. It protects your entire family from sunburn, skin cancer, premature aging of the skin, and serious health issues. Yet, many people don’t wear it, and they don’t use it on their children!

So, what’s the real deal with sunscreen? How do you use it to protect everyone from skin cancer? How can you enjoy your time outside, in the pool, or at the lake? We look at some suggestions in this article.

Apply Generously

Using sunscreen isn’t something you do sparingly. Use about an ounce to cover your body. Cover each part of your exposed skin.

Do this about 20 minutes before you go outside or get in the swimming pool.

You want to choose sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. You can take it a step further and look toward mineral sunscreens that include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

In addition, don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. If swimming, follow the directions on the bottle.

Finally, use sunscreen EVERY day. This means using it on cloudy days, too, and whenever you are outside.

Wear Protective Clothing

Another good plan (when not swimming, of course!) is to wear long sleeve shirts and long pants. You also want to wear a hat to protect your face and sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Don’t Let Your Skin Burn

No burn is a good burn, and no tan is a good tan.

The sun on your skin can cause skin cancer and premature aging, so do your best to keep the skin you were born in!

Utilize Shade

When outside on sunny and even on cloudy days, look for shade when possible.

Try to stay out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest.

Also, remember that when you’re near water (and snow and sand), the sun reflects off the surface. You have a better chance of a sunburn, so be extra careful.

What About UV Ratings?

UV ratings can be confusing. What exactly is the UV index? It’s an international standard measurement that tells you how strong the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is at any time.

You might see these ratings in your daily weather forecasts to help you know how strong the sun is.

The National Weather Service and EPA rate the strength of solar UV radiation on a scale from 1 (low) to 11+ (extremely high).

Here are some general guidelines to follow based on your area’s UV ratings.

UV Suggestion for Your Protection Sunburn Time
0-2 Minimal protection is needed – Wearing a hat is sufficient More than one hour
3-4 Low – Hat and sunscreen with at least SPF 15 is recommended More than one hour
5-6 Moderate – Wearing a hat, applying sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and taking shade whenever possible is recommended About 30 minutes
7-9 HI​GH – In addition to the precautions recommended above, it is advised to stay indoors between 10am and 4pm About 20 minutes
10+ VERY HIGH – In addition to the precautions recommended above, it is advised to stay indoors, if possible Less than 15 minutes

Final Thoughts on Sunscreen

Humans were using “products” to protect their skin from burning thousands of years ago. They were using things they found in nature to make “sunscreen.”

For example, there are studies showing the Greeks and Egyptians used things like oil, myrrh, and rice bran to keep themselves from tanning and burning.

So, protect yourself and your families from the damaging effects of the sun such as skin cancer and aging!

In 20 years, you’ll be glad you did!