In honor of May being Skin Cancer Awareness month, I’m going to give you a few tips and reminders for easy and effective sun protection.
But note that I didn’t say anything about sun avoidance. I never tell my patients not to go in the sun. Instead, I tell them how to protect themselves while they’re in it. And this is so important because unprotected sun exposure is the only way you can get premature skin aging, whether it’s lines, wrinkles, brown spots, broken capillaries, or even skin cancer.
The first and most important rule of effective sun protection is that you need to wear sunscreen all day and every day, rain or shine, winter or summer. You see, even on a rainy or overcast day, 30% of the damaging UV rays comes through the clouds. And the other reason you need it all day, every day, is because, if you will, imagine that there’s a little meter in your skin that records every second and every minute of sun exposure… and it’s always running. UV damage adds up. 5 ten minutes walks to work without sunscreen is the same as 50 unprotected minutes at the beach.
Second, the sunscreen needs to have an SPF between 15 and 30, which tells you that you’re getting between 88 and 95% protection from the burning UVB rays. It also needs to be labeled either “with UVA protection” or “with broad-spectrum protection”, which means it’s protecting you against UVA rays that contribute to skin cancer and premature skin aging. For example, these Garnier, Eucerin and Neutragena sunscreens – going from SPF 15 to 30 – all fit these criteria.
Third you need to reapply your sunscreen every two-to-three hours, and immediately after sweating or swimming.
And last, make sure you put enough on: if you’re using regular, traditional carbon-based sunscreens, it takes about an ounce to cover your entire body. And if you’re using chem-free sunscreens with zinc or titanium, you need less… probably a third as much.
Now in the spirit of reminding you to use sunscreen everyday, I want to try something new. Head over to my DermTV Facebook page - which you can find at Facebook.com Slash DermTV - and share a tip on the wall explaining how you take care of your skin during the summer.
Then on Friday, we’ll randomly select contributors from each day and award prizes, which have been generously provided by Eucerin. They include a Lands End Beach Package, a $50 Gift Certificate to Sunglass Hut, and some Eucerin products.
I’m looking forward to hearing your tips!