The first rays of summer sunshine probably have you grabbing your beach bags, but before you head out the door, remember to make sunscreen application a top priority.
To be sure you and your family are protecting your skin safely and effectively, you need to be mindful of how much sunscreen you are using, as well as how often you reapply. Here are a handful of tips to help you and your family sidestep sun-damaged skin.
1. Protect Overlooked Areas
We all know to cover our face, chest, arms, and legs with sunscreen, but do you take time to coat your feet and ears? If not, you should. These spots can be just as vulnerable to sun exposure.
While you should protect these forgotten areas with proper sunscreen application, consider additional precautionary measures, as well. For instance, hats with brims help protect your scalp and the back of your neck, and UV-blocking sunglasses can help shield eyelids.
2. Reapply Regularly
Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). You may need to reapply more regularly if you and the kids are sweating, swimming, running through sprinklers, hugging, or drying off with towels.
Also, keep in mind that a sunscreen lotion with a high-number SPF is active the same amount of time as one with a lower number. SPF is an acronym for sun protection factor, and the higher the SPF number, the more rays are blocked, explains the AAD. However, reapplication rules remain the same regardless of the SPF number. Be sure to read the label on your sunscreen product to note any special reapplication guidelines.
Get in the habit of applying sunscreen at least fifteen minutes before going outside, allowing your skin time to absorb the protection.
3. Use Enough Sunscreen
According to the AAD, most people only apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. For adults, a full ounce is recommended to adequately cover your body. (As a reference, a shot glass is an ounce.)
Considering the amount of sunscreen needed, lotions may be the easiest way to achieve full coverage. The problem with spray sunscreens is that frequently, people apply too little. Plus, if it's windy out, it can be harder to land the sunscreen on the body. There have also been concerns about people, especially children, inhaling sunscreen during a spray application.
Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulations for sunscreen products do not cover spray varieties, though the agency continues to assess them for safety and effectiveness. To err on the side of caution, opt for sunscreen lotion. That said, if the only available sunscreen is a spray, it can still provide coverage. If you spray the product into your hand first and then rub it in, it can be easier to determine if you're using enough sunscreen.
4. Cover the Kids
Little ones might not want to put on sunscreen, but it's essential they learn the importance of protecting their skin from sun damage. Explain to them that sunscreen keeps our skin safe and try some sun-safety games to encourage good sun protection habits.
To make the application process easier, let your child pick where they will stand when you apply the sunscreen. Or, sing your favorite song together and let your child know you will apply lotion until the song is finished (or finished twice, if you need more time).
Using sun protection sticks and clothing with UV protection can help, too. Some parents find sunscreen sticks are great for targeted locations on kids, such as faces and ears.
And remember, babies under six months old are too young for sunscreen, according to many pediatricians and the FDA. Keep the tiny ones in the shade and protect their newborn skin with wide-brimmed hats and UV-protective clothing.
5. Know When to Seek Shade
When the sun is high, the rays are at their strongest. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most damaging hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so avoid the sun during that period. If you are out, finding a bit of shade under a tree or a pool umbrella can help, but be sure to apply sunscreen, too. Even in the shade, you are exposed to sunlight.
This summer, have more fun and fewer worries. Commit to using a lotion sunscreen with a high-number SPF and uniformly apply it to the whole family. This, in combination with protective clothing, brimmed hats, and sunglasses, can reduce your family's exposure to damaging UV rays.
How do you protect yourself from the summer rays? Show us your favorite sunhat or shady spot by tagging @toms_of_maine on Instagram!
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Why It's Good
By keeping a few sun protection tips in mind, you and your family can prevent sun-damaged skin and get back to enjoying the warmth and sunshine.