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You’re Faithful About Using Sunscreen — But Are You Using it Correctly?

Much has been written over the past few decades about the dangers of exposing your skin to the sun’s rays without protecting it with sunscreen. We’re urged over and over again to make sunscreen part of our daily skin care regimen, and with good reason.

“The rate of new melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, among adults in the U.S. has tripled since the 1970s,” shares Dr. Adam Mamelak, board certified dermatologist and skin cancer expert at Sanova Dermatology. “And for a culture that’s as youth and beauty obsessed as America’s, we just can’t seem to stop indulging our love affair with suntans, despite the fact that most of the signs of aging that show up on our skin are caused by years of unprotected sun exposure,” he continues.

Those of us who are honest will usually admit sheepishly that we’re not as diligent as we should be about using sunscreen — at least not on a daily basis. For those who have made a commitment to protect themselves and actually do slather it on every day whether the sun is shining or not, a little pat on the back is not undeserved! That said, using it daily is one thing, but are you using enough and are you reapplying it as needed? Well, those details might be a little less ingrained in our collective consciousness. Let’s remedy that right now! Here’s how to properly use sunscreen so that you reap the maximum benefit from your daily habit:

1. Use the right amount

“Keep a shot glass next to your bottle of sunscreen,” Dr. Mamelak says. “Fill that shot glass to the top and plan to apply all of it. That’s the amount it takes to cover your entire body with a layer of sunscreen,” Dr. Mamelak says.

2. Don’t apply it and immediately head outdoors

You need to give the sunscreen about 15 minutes to penetrate in order to protect your skin properly.

3. Use the right product

“Look for products labeled “broad spectrum protection” and that have with a minimum SPF of 15 and a maximum of 50,” Dr. Mamelak suggests. Lotions are typically most effective but sprays can be great for reapplication, especially for kids and athletes.

4. Be aware of commonly missed spots

When people use sunscreen, they typically slather it on their faces, torsos, arms and legs. The spots most people miss? The tops of the ears, back of the neck, upper chest and the tops of the feet.

5. Sunscreen is not a do it once and forget about it ’til tomorrow deal

Apply your sunscreen 15 minutes before leaving the house, but remember that it needs to be replenished every 2 hours. “What’s more, if you’re spending the day at the beach or in your backyard pool, it’s a good idea to reapply it after every swim, regardless of whether the label says it’s waterproof or not, and regardless of the SPF rating,” suggests Dr. Mamelak.

Taking care of your skin by using sunscreen faithfully and correctly is part of taking care of your health and well-being. Be smart — stay away from tanning beds, use the proper amount of sunscreen daily, and wear a hat when out in the garden, by the pool or at the beach! If you do, you’ll look younger longer and cut your risk of skin cancer substantially!

Contact Us

If you reside in Austin, Texas or the surrounding area, contact us at Sanova Dermatology for help with sun-damaged skin, aging skin — or any other skin related problem you may have!