Sun Protection Makeover

July 20, 2020

Summer is here! While it feels great to get outdoors, it’s important to consider your sun protection routine before stepping outside. It may be time for a makeover.

According to the American Cancer Society, a common cause for skin cancers is too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. For most people, the majority of UV-ray exposure comes from the sun. Most people don’t think about this in their usual routine—like running errands or walking around the block. This regular exposure can add up, which makes daily use of sunscreen one of the best defenses against UV rays.

There are many types of sunscreen with different levels of protection. Before buying your next bottle, consider the following:

  • Are you making quick trips or spending the day poolside? The sun protection factor (SPF) is the level of protection from UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. The SPF number measures two things—how long you’re protected and the percentage of UVB rays that are filtered out. For example, an SPF 30 means 30 minutes in the sun with sunscreen is the same as 1 minute in the sun without it. Generally, the higher the SPF, the better, but only to a point. An SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB rays; SPF 30 filters out 97%; SPF 50 filters out 98%. Certain medications may also make it easier to burn. Check with your doctor if you have questions about how your medications react to the sun.
  • Will you be swimming or exercising? Sunscreens labeled “water resistant” have to protect skin for 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.
  • Is it expired? Generally, sunscreen will last two to three years, but if the sunscreen has been exposed to heat for a long period of time, it might be less effective. Throw out sunscreen past its expiration date.
  • Is it easy to apply? Sunscreen should be applied before makeup or insect repellant. Some brands require application 20−30 minutes before going out in the sun. Others, like sprays and wipes, may make it a little trickier to get an even application across all areas of the skin. To stay protected, reapply every two hours and more often if you’re swimming or sweating.

Keep in mind that sunscreen is just a filter—it does not block all UV rays. Don’t forget about other forms of sun protection, like hats, UV-blocking sunglasses, umbrellas, and long sleeves.

Get Help

Contact the HOP Administration Unit for assistance with your questions.