Unless you’ve spent the past decades living under a rock, you know that we all should be wearing sunscreen every day. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your skin tone is or how much time you spend outdoors. If you’re outside, any skin not covered by clothing needs protection.

The stakes are high. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes.1

The best sunscreen is the one that gets on your body

  • Broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays
  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Water resistant if you’re active or swimming1

Sunscreen options—chemical or mineral

Mineral sunscreen contains zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. It works by reflecting the sun’s rays. These sunscreens can leave a white cast after applying, but nanotechnology is helping to develop “clear” applications. Some are even tinted or come in fun, kid-friendly colors.

Chemical sunscreen absorbs the rays.1 Most of the big brands offer different formulations of chemical sunscreens like cream, gel, lotion, spray and stick.

Apply it often

Sunscreen needs at least 15 minutes to absorb into the skin.2 Try incorporating it into your routine before you leave home for the day so you’re never caught without. Remember hard-to-reach places—the tops of your feet, ears, neck, head and your lips. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the hairline after pulling your hair back. If you are outdoors, reapply every two hours, even if it’s cloudy. Also, reapply after sweating or when you get out of the water.1

Sunscreen and children

Keep babies younger than six months in the shade or under a canopy or umbrella. For toddlers and kids, a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses are must-haves.1,2 Choose sunscreens formulated for sensitive skin. Consider applying stick sunscreens on the face and around the eyes. Spray sunscreen may be the easiest to apply to kids who tend to be wiggly. Spray it until your child’s skin glistens, and then rub it in.1 Avoid breathing it in, and be aware of which way the wind is blowing when you apply it.

More than 33,000 people seek emergency care for sunburns each year.3

Skin changes

If you get a little too much sun, treat it immediately. Take a cool bath or shower, apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer, drink plenty of water and stay out of the sun.1,2,4 If you develop blisters or a fever, consult with a doctor right away. The same goes for developing any new spots or moles. Warning signs include changes in size, shape or color, itching, bleeding or uneven edges. Consult with your doctor if you see any of these warnings.

Fun in the sun can be safe too, with the right protection.

Start a Dermatology consult now

Summer is the best time for salads. Try this delicious (and easy to make) couscous salad with cucumber, tomato and bell pepper.

Published July 3, 2024


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