Protecting your skin from the sun takes some effort, but it is well worth it to reduce the risk of both skin cancer and aging. Protecting yourself however, is a lot more than a few swipes of sunscreen when you happen to remember. Science shows regular use of the right sunscreen is key to reducing health risks associated with the sun. There are a few simple rules to follow when it comes to sunscreen.
-Look for a broad spectrum product that blocks both UVA and UVB rays of the sun.
-Choose an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15-30 or more.
-Use a “shot-glass” size amount for your face and body (about 2 ounces).
-Remember to apply to your lips – they burn easily.
-If you use a spray sunscreen, rub it into your skin after applying.
-Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure.
-Reapply after swimming, or every two hours when you’re outdoors.
-Wear sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days.
Who needs sunscreen? Everyone! Regardless of age, race, or gender, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Daily application of a high (15+) SPF sunscreen every day can help reduce that risk. Remember that sand, water, and snow all reflect the rays of the sun, so wear sunscreen every day of the year.
Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, is NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.