We’re in the midst of summer, which doesn’t mean much has changed in our part of the country. It is important for Floridians to be mindful of their sun-savvy habits throughout the year. However, because the sun’s rays do seem to intensify this time of year, we want to discuss the importance of working your sunscreen, so it works for you.
Sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV rays, or ultraviolet light rays. Whichever product you choose - a spray, wipe, cream, or lotion – it is crucial that you realize the limitations of any one of these. Sunscreen filters light, it does not block every last ray that could penetrate your skin. Therefore, the use of sunscreen is protective but does not mean you can spend all day every day under the hot summer sun. Sunscreen is a tool to reduce the effects of the sun; it will not make you bulletproof. The only surefire way to avoid UV damage is to stay indoors.
One of the first ways to make sure your sunscreen is working for you is to read the label. The term “broad-spectrum” should be prioritized. Broad spectrum indicates that the product has been proven to filter UVA and UVB light. SPF stands for sun protection factor. It is the number that tells you how much filtering your product is doing. Sunscreen with an SPF of 100 filters 99% of UV light, while SPF 50 filters 98% of UV light. The difference is not as significant as one may imagine.
HOW TO APPLY SUNSCREEN
Most people do not apply sunscreen in a manner that provides them with the fullest extent of UV protection, even if they have the right product. If you read the label on just about any sunscreen, the instructions will likely say to apply the product “generously.” To apply generously means that you use about 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover your entire body, and 1 teaspoon to cover your entire face. Hint: 1 ounce is about one full shot glass. If you don’t have a shot glass handy, use an entire palmful of sunscreen for your face and body.
In a study of sunscreen use, researchers discovered another way in which most people miss the mark with their sunscreen application: they forget essential areas. When asked to apply sunscreen to their face, study participants reached the chin, cheeks, forehead, and tip of the nose. They forget critical areas including the area around the eyes, bridge of the nose, ears and lips.
Sunscreen use, sunglasses wit UV protection, UPF/sunscreen clothes, and a wide brim hat are the next best thing to staying out of the sun altogether. Do you have questions about how to avoid skin cancer and premature aging? Call our Sarasota dermatology office at (941) 379-6647.