Practice Safe Sun
By Jordana Mattioli, LE
You're wearing sunscreen and maybe even reapplying, but there are a few things about sunscreen that aren't so obvious. Here are some tips to protect your skin even better.
THE AMOUNT YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO USE
Get out a teaspoon measurement spoon, fill it up, and that's how much you should be using on your face and neck. Seems like a lot, doesn't it? The average person only applies half of that. There is actually an exact science to that number: cosmetic scientists apply it to a screen at a density of 2.0 mg/cm2 to measure SPF rating. For your body, the amount you want to be using is about 1 oz -- a 'shot glass' is an easy measuring tool. If you prefer a spray sunscreen, you want an even sheen coating. Spray sunscreens can be deceiving; use more than you think you need!
Tip: Take that teaspoon dollop and put on half of it, wait a minute for that first layer to soak in, and then do a second coat of what's left. Two coats ensures you're getting enough coverage.
HOW OFTEN YOU SHOULD REAPPLY
If you are in direct sun, or work outdoors, reapply every two hours. If you are swimming or sweating, reapply after that also. If you are going to work mostly indoors, one application in the morning is enough, but keep a sample of sunscreen, or a brush-on sunscreen powder and a hat nearby in case of outdoor lunch excursions! Sprays are thinner and won't last as long as lotions or creams; apply these liberally and even more often.
Tip: It's easy to forget to reapply when you're having fun outdoors, so try setting your phone alarm to go off every two hours as a reminder.
I SHOULD BE APPLYING IT WHERE?!
Don't forget to apply to the the outside earlobes, lips, crevices of the nostrils, the tops of your feet, back of the neck, the exposed part of your scalp where you part your hair, and all over your scalp if you are bald or shave your head -all of these sometimes-forgotten areas are common locations for skin cancer.
Tip: Sunscreen SPF sticks are really great for this purpose!
IT'S CLOUDY AND YOU STILL NEED SPF
Up to 80% of UV rays can pass through clouds and even smog -- we've actually seen patients get a sunburn on an overcast or cloudy day. Even in the winter, and especially on a ski vacation, don't forget the sunscreen. The higher your altitude, the more UV exposure and the more the sun reflects on snow.
Tip: Just like you check the weather in the mornings, you can also see the UV index for the day.
STORE IT WELL
Don't store your sunscreens in a hot place like your glove compartment or a beach bag that sits in your garage, they will break down faster. Also, check expiration dates.
Tip: Try stashing your sunscreen in your cooler next time you're having a day outdoors in the sun, it makes application refreshing and cooling!