Sunscreen contains ingredients that help block out UV radiation. It’s an important tool for protecting yourself from the sun and preventing skin cancer. Sunscreen has been proven to prevent squamous cell carcinoma and will likely help reduce your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma or melanoma.
But guess what? Sunscreen can’t protect you on its own, because it can’t block out all the UV radiation the sun produces. This is the reason why your skin can become tanned even if you’re wearing sunscreen. Tanned skin means damaged skin, and tanning causes skin cancer.
Use sunscreen to give you added protection from the sun, especially when you can’t find shade or cover up with clothing. Don’t use it as a way to tan without burning, or to increase your time in the sun – doing this will still expose you to lots of UV radiation and increase your risk of skin cancer.
How to wear sunscreen – Slop it on!
Most people don’t use nearly enough sunscreen – they use only 25-30% of the recommended amount. This means that an SPF 60 lotion will only work as well as an SPF 15 lotion, and an SPF 15 becomes pretty much useless at SPF 4.
Suntips for sunscreen use
- Use it right: Use sunscreen to help you protect your skin from UV radiation. It’s not meant to help you tan without burning, or to increase the time you spend in the sun.
- Go broad: Choose a sunscreen that is labeled “broad-spectrum.” This means the sunscreen is formulated to filter out both UVA and UVB radiation.
- Strength in numbers: Use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30. If you’re light-skinned, go for an SPF 60.
- Protect your kisser: Lips are a common spot for skin cancer because people often forget to properly protect them from the sun. Use an SPF 30 lip balm, or wear lipstick.
- Lay it on thick: Apply enough sunscreen to make your skin white before it absorbs the lotion. About 30-40 ml. (two to three tablespoons) will cover your whole body once. Don’t forget the tops of your ears and feet.
- Soak it up: Sunscreen starts working as soon as you apply it. However, if you’re going swimming, it’s a good idea to apply waterproof sunscreen 30-60 minutes ahead of time. This way, your skin has time to fully absorb the sunscreen and it won’t wash off in the water.
- Take two: Sunscreen sticks well to your skin and lasts for several hours. You only need to apply it twice a day, unless you’re sweating a lot or doing intense activity in the water.