How to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays this summer
Correctly applying a high SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen on exposed skin is the best way to prevent sun damage. But, have you burned or tanned when you thought you were protected? Most of us have. I’ve seen it happen to my patients over and over again in my 30+ years practicing dermatology. Here is my top list of mistakes that my patients and I have learned from years of experience using sunscreen:
Top sunscreen mistakes to avoid:
1. Using expired sunscreen.
Sunscreen is classified by the FDA as a drug and has a shelf life. Sunscreen expires, and there is an expiration date stamped on every tube. Throw out old sunscreen that has expired. You should also throw out sunscreen that’s been stored at temperature or climate extremes as the formula and actives may have broken down. Chemical UV-active-filter ingredients are particularly fragile. Some actually break each other down as the formula sits in the container.
Solution: At the start of the sunny season, check your sunscreen expiration dates. Use only fresh sunscreen that’s not expired. Discard any sunscreen that looks like it may have seen dicey storage conditions even if the expiration date has not passed.
2. Not putting enough sunscreen on.
The protection factor of sunscreens is dependent on the dose of product you apply. Most people don’t put enough on, meaning that SPF 50 sunscreen is not giving you SPF 50 protection. Studies show that people apply 25-50% of the correct amount of sunscreen to their skin. Don’t let that be you if you are depending on the protection.
Solution: Adults need to apply 1 oz (a shot glass) of product to their skin when wearing a bathing suit. The face and front of the neck needs an average of a 5-cent-piece amount. That’s about 1/3 to ½ tsp of product depending on your hairstyle and clothing. It does not include scalp.