Any activity in your daily life that allows the sun to touch your skin requires the use of sunscreen, no matter for what length of time or whether you are inside or outside. Driving in your car, and even being outside on cloudy or cold winter days exposes your skin to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Daily use of sunscreen is proven to be much more effective than sporadic use in preventing precancerous skin growths, premature aging of the skin, and other sun damage.

What should I look for in sunscreen?

It is important to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 every day. If you are going to be swimming, sitting in the sun, or participating in outdoor sports and unlikely to reapply sunscreen regularly, a higher SPF factor of 30 or higher is recommended for more protection. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours while in the sun.

The SPF of a sunscreen tells you how many times your natural protection the product offers, which means you could be in the sun 15 times longer with a SPF 15 sunscreen than you could without any protection.

Remember that it takes about a half-hour for sunscreen to be absorbed completely into the skin and offer the best protection from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are five to ten times more damaging during peak sun hours (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), but UVA rays are constant throughout the day and can pass through glass, like a car or office window and even clothing.

A few individuals may experience skin irritation from using sunscreen. If this is your case, try a sunscreen containing zinc oxide or a titanium dioxide. If skin irritation continues, ask your skin care specialist to advise the right sunscreen for you.

Did you know?

  • Most dermatologists believe that daily use of sunscreen not only reduces the risk of developing skin cancer, but also is the best product available for maintaining a smooth, youthful appearing complexion by reducing wrinkles, breakdown of normal collagen, and age spots.
  • Skin cancer of the eye and lip are common. It is very important to wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection and to use SPF rated lip balms.
  • A baby’s skin is thin and burns easily. Look for UPF (sun-protective) clothing and ask your skin care expert which sunscreens are best for your baby’s protection.
  • Certain medications may make your skin extra sensitive to the sunlight. If this is the case for you, be sure to use sunscreen as part of your daily regimen.

Who is most affected by sun-related skin cancers?

Those individuals that have light colored hair and skin and/or those that freckle easily are of higher risk of developing a skin cancer. However, everyone is at risk for sun-related skin cancers, no matter what their skin type, age, sex, or race.

The regular use of sunscreen can significantly reduce, but will not prevent all the possible harmful effects of sun exposure. To maximize your safety when enjoying outdoor activities, use sunscreen, and wear sun protective clothing. Block the sun, not the fun!