Sunscreen 101

Sunscreen plays an important role in protecting your skin from sunburn and harmful UV rays, if used correctly. There is a lot more that goes into just slathering up yourselves and the kids and going about your merry way. We are going to talk about sunscreen from what to purchase and thorough application, to ensure you are truly protecting your skin when you are in the sun this summer, and beyond.

What to Buy

Reading the labels on the sunscreen you buy has never been more important. The immediate effect of not protecting your skin from the sun is sunburn. The long term effects range from, prematurely aging your skin, to raising your chances for skin cancer. We have put together a list of what to look for when purchasing sunscreen:

  • Buy Broad Spectrum– To get protection from both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays and cancer causing) you need to buy broad spectrum sunscreen which helps protect against both types of UV rays.
  • SPF 30 or higher– At the SPF 30 level, you are blocking 97% of the sun’s rays. Anything higher than 30 will block a little more, but no sunscreen can block 100%.
  • Water resistant- Even if you are not going to be in the water, you may sweat and become less effective. Resistance to water can be effective from 40-80 minutes of water use, so make sure the one you purchase specifies.
  • Cream, Spray, Gel, and Sticks – This choice is really up to you as long as it has the SPF you need, is water resistant, and is broad spectrum.
    • Creams are great for dry skin and face.
    • Sticks are easier to apply around the eyes.
    • Gels apply better to hairy areas such as the scalp and the male chest.
    • Sprays apply easier to babies and younger children and can easily cover that bald spot.


Everyone needs sunscreen if you are going to be outside. This is year round, even if the sun is not shining. Most people only apply 25-50% of the actual amount of sunscreen needed, so it is crucial to follow the step below for correct coverage.

  • How Much- All skin that will be exposed to the sun needs sunscreen. Most adults need 1 ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) to cover their body. Here is video from the American Academy of Dermatology on best application practices.
  • Areas Commonly Missed– Tops of feet, scalp, ears, back of neck, and lips. Use a lip balm that contains sunscreen that has an SPF 30 or higher.
  • When to Apply- 15 mins before going outdoors.
  • Follow the Directions- Sunscreen needs to be re-applied every 2 hours, or after sweating or swimming. Follow the directions given on the sunscreen container.

The summer is a great time to make lasting memories with those you love. Taking the time now will help reduce the negative impacts of the sun later. Now that you have been armed with how to properly protect your skin in the sun with sunscreen, get out there and have some fun!

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