Using sunscreen is a simple matter, right? You just slap it on and go outside! Actually, many people don't use sunscreen correctly, which can risk a nasty sunburn - or worse. Sunscreen won't be much use if you don't apply it properly, so it's essential to use it correctly. Here are some tips on using sunscreen …
The first tip on using sunscreen is to use a sufficiently large amount. Most people use far too little; if you go on vacation, that bottle shouldn't last you the full two weeks. You're likely to need at least two bottles. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using one ounce every time you apply, which is "enough to fill a shot glass."
Most sunscreens won't give you all-day protection. You will need to reapply the cream frequently - every couple of hours or so. If you've been swimming, you should reapply after coming out of the water. You should also reapply if you've been sweating a lot. Even if you buy one marketed as giving all-day protection, don't assume that it will last that long.
Many a sun-worshiper has assumed that they were safe in the sun, and found out the hard way that they were not. Just because you're using sun cream, don't be complacent and assume that you couldn't possibly burn. Never push your cream to its limit and stay out to the maximum "safe" time the SPF allows. Nor should you think that a higher SPF means you can stay in the sun for hours. A high-factor cream will still wear off.
When you apply sunscreen, make sure that you have covered every exposed area of skin. A lot of people omit areas like the backs of the knees, soles of the feet, and ears. You should also use a lip balm with an SPF. If your dad or your guy has thinning hair, he should also put sun screen on his head. Scalps can burn as well!
It's a common misconception that you don't need sunscreen on a cloudy day, but the sun can still penetrate clouds. Use cream when outside, even when it's snowing, as the snow reflects the sun. People who work outdoors should be especially careful, as they can get a lot of exposure to the sun.
Don't wait until you're outside to apply your sunscreen. If you wait until you're sunning yourself on the beach or in the park, you've left it a little late. Sunscreen should be applied about 15-20 minutes before going outside. And if you've been swimming, don't wait until two hours have passed since your last application; reapply cream immediately afterwards.
People are often confused by the difference between UVA and UVB rays, and which cream they should buy. The best option is a broad-spectrum cream that protects against both types of rays. UVA rays cause aging, and UVB rays cause sunburn, but both types can cause cancer if you receive too much exposure.
It's nice to enjoy a little time in the sun, but take all sensible precautions. Use a hat and sunglasses, and stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. Be especially careful if you're fair-skinned, but be safe in the sun whatever your skin tone. There's no point risking premature aging, sunburn and cancer. And never use tanning beds - they are no safer than the sun. Do you love the pale look, or prefer a tan?
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