Every single day someone tells me “back then we didn’t know the sun was bad for you, we wanted tans” or something of this nature. How they used baby oil, iodine and aluminum foil. In my head, I sometimes think to myself “you wouldn’t have done anything different if you did know”. That sounds awful doesn’t it; that I think like that? But currently we all know tanning beds and sunburns increase our risk for skin cancer, specifically melanoma, the one that can kill you. Still, I see teen girls getting in tanning beds before prom, women tanning before their wedding or my favorite excuse, tanning to get ready for vacation so they don’t burn (insert eye roll emoji here). But I do realize that some of those people who say they wish they had known really would have changed their habits. Some people out there really are applying sunscreen, seeking shade, wearing sun protective clothing and keeping their skin healthy. For those people, here are my sunscreen tips.
- Choose appropriate sunscreen for the event. If you are sunscreening a bunch of kids on a field trip pick a cheaper physical sunscreen like barerepublic at Target. If you are acne prone pick a light sunscreen such as a mineral powder like the BOB. If your skin is dry and it’s winter pick a creamy, non-greasy sunscreen like Elta MD sport. My point is, I use different sunscreens everyday. You have a go-to daily lipstick but you change it up for a special night out or family photos. Have that same arsenal of sunscreens.
- Apply everyday. Often times when I give this advice people say “oh but I don’t go outside”. If you see light of day then the UV rays see your skin. Do you walk from your car into work and then from your car into the grocery store, then back to your car, then into your home? That alone is a good 30 minutes outside. Every. Single. Day.
- Reapply, reapply, reapply. Every 2 hours while outdoors. More often if participating in water sports. Usually people say “I burned even though I used sunscreen” and then I say “did you reapply?” and then they give me a deer in headlights look.
- Use enough, which seems like a lot. Most adults need one ounce to cover all exposed areas of skin. That’s about a palm full. Or for all you spring breakers it’s a shot glass full. So fill your palm with sunscreen and then rub that all over. Don’t try to spread a pea size drop of sunscreen on your hands, feet and face-it’s just not enough! If you’re burning while using sunscreen then most likely you’re not using enough or not reapplying enough or it’s just expired sunscreen.
- Only use GREAT sunscreen. Here are my rules: #1 at least 30 SPF #2 UVA/UVB #3 water resistant #4 a physical sunscreen (like zinc oxide). That’s just 4 rules so don’t break them-your skin deserves the best, right?
- Apply BEFORE you go outside. Cloudy, sunny, hot or cold you have to apply every day so just get in the habit of applying before walking out the door. People on spring break who walk out to the beach, set up the umbrella, lay out the towels, order a drink, grab a magazine and then pull the sunscreen out have already had harmful sun exposure for a good 20 minutes before they even start applying sunscreen then another 15 minutes for the sunscreen to absorb. You don’t grab a hot baking dish out of the oven without your oven mit, get a slight burn on your hand, then decide to put on an oven mit to finish getting your casserole out of the oven. You put the oven mit on first so that you don’t burn yourself at all. Sunscreen first, that’s how protection and prevention work.
Sunscreen is one anti aging product every single person should be using. It’s not easy to use sunscreen in our busy lives but you will be happy you did. I’ve never met a patient who said “I wish I wouldn’t have used sunscreen”, not one. But I meet a lot who say they wish they would have been more sun protective. Hind sight is 20/20, have 20/20 vision now for you skin, protect it.
Happy Spring Break to everyone this week! I will be at the clinic for all your spring break skin needs, hope to see you there.
Sun smart and proud, Nina