After long, cold winters and rainy springs, the feeling of sun on your skin is simply great. By the pool, at the shore, or even at an outdoor event in town, we strive to enjoy summer to its absolute fullest. But it can be easy to forget your skin in the hustle and bustle of summer fun, and we’re not quite as practiced at wearing sunscreen in town as we may be at the beach.
This summer, UAB Medical West reminds us that skin health is overall health. While a blemish or spot of hyperpigmentation may seem innocent enough, it’s crucial that we remember how lethal skin cancers form in the first place—from abundant ultraviolet light on unprotected skin.
Just as no two skin tones are exactly the same, there’s no one-size-fits-all sunscreen. Here’s a handy guide to keep you protected all summer long!
What Strength Of Sunscreen Do I Need?
For starters, a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 is recommended for everyone. At SPF 30, your sunscreen should block 97% of the sun’s rays. That’s a great start, but what if you burn easily, have finer features, or have a family history of melanoma?
For those of us with paler skin, an SPF of 50 is generally recommended. At SPF 50, your sunscreen should prevent most sun damage and sunburns (when applied regularly and comprehensively). But even a powerful, SPF 50 sunscreen is only as good as its application.
What Else Should I Consider When Choosing Sunscreens?
Where there’s sun, there’s generally water, and no matter how well-absorbed your sunscreen is, it’s still at risk of coming off too soon. Certain sunscreens may be more or less ideal for certain applications, so it’s important to read the fine print before purchasing and using sunscreen.
To take your sunscreen protection to the next level, make sure you look for water-resistant sunscreen. These sunscreens shield your skin no matter how much fun you’re having in the waves or pool. With water-resistant sunscreen, you can be confident that a quick dip won’t wash away your protection entirely. It’s also important to choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection. Regardless of SPF, these sunscreens can reflect multiple wavelengths of light for a more robust guard.
How Should I Use Sunscreen?
Now that you have your ideal, water-resistant, broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, the rest is down to how you use it. Obviously, you’ll want to cover as much skin as you’re showing, including frequently-missed spots like the ears, nose, forehead, back of your neck, back of your knees, toes, and the tops of your feet.
Johns Hopkins recommends reapplying sunscreen at a minimum of every two hours, especially if you’re sweating or swimming. Sunscreen isn’t a guarantee, though. If you anticipate being in the sun half a day or all day, you may need additional protection.
Aside From Sunscreen, How Can I Protect My Skin?
For starters, cover up when you can. You might also wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat for additional protection. Hydrate frequently, both to protect yourself and reinforce your skin against damage. Dry skin is more susceptible to sun damage, so hydration is important for multiple reasons.
Though it’s been said before, it’s vital to remember that you can still be burned on cloudy days. If you’re planning on being outdoors for any length of time, despite how the weather looks, sunscreen and sun protection is advisable.
Take Caution & Enjoy the Summertime!
The safer you feel in the sun, the more fun you ultimately have! To avoid lethal skin cancers, sun damage, sunburns, premature aging, and hyperpigmentation, find and use the right sunscreen for your skin type.
At UAB Medical West, we know that skin health is total health. For all your summer-related medical questions, we have facilities in communities like yours. Don’t gamble on going it alone in the sun. Protect your skin and, possibly, your life with proper sunscreen and extra precautions.
For the Safest Possible Fun in the Sun all Summer Long!
For a summer skin check, UAB Medical West has a facility near you in Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, and Vance. Always be on the lookout for burning, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion—both for yourself and for those around you. Most importantly, have a great summer, and contact us for whatever you need!