June 1, 2018
Many of us remember carefree summers from our childhood when we bounced out of bed and went right outside to play with our friends.
We also know our fair share of adults and children alike who had many painful sunburns to show for that time outside.
The reality is that no matter your history or skin type, we all need to maintain adequate sun protection year-round and especially in the summertime.
So before you or your kids go outside, take the time to put on sunblock, shop for your protection wisely, and protect your skin against more than just sunburn.
These precautions should cut down drastically on the risk for skin cancer and premature aging.
Understand the Limitations of Water-Resistant Sunblock
One important thing to keep in mind is that sunblock cannot be waterproof, nor can it be sweatproof. If you see a brand touting otherwise, it's making illegal claims, or maybe you're confusing "waterproof" with "water resistant."
For instance, sunblock brands CAN say they are water resistant, but even then, there are limitations. For example, the front label must detail how long the sunblock is resistant -- perhaps for 80 minutes while swimming, to give an example.
Water resistant means that a substance can resist water to some degree but not entirely, like something that is waterproof could. The takeaway is that even if you're wearing water-resistant sunblock while swimming, it is helpful to use other sun protection measures such as wearing a shirt that covers more of your body than a swimsuit does.
For maximum sunblock protection:
- Use a product that is water-resistant
- Apply more sunblock after toweling yourself dry because the towel removes the sunblock
- Reapply the sunblock liberally if you are sweating or swimming a lot (reapply every two hours, if not more often)
Go with a SPF of at least 30
Numbers matter a lot when you're picking out sun protection, and you should aim to choose sunblock that promises at least 30 SPF. One big reason is that sunblock under 30 SPF does not protect against aging skin or skin cancer. They only protect your skin against sunburns.
Speaking of sunburns, 30 SPF sunblock should be able to safeguard your skin against 97 percent of UVB rays. In comparison, a 15 SPF would filter out 93 percent. That 4 percent is significant enough to make a difference, but there is no SPF that provides 100 percent protection. The closest you can get is 99 percent with 100 SPF. You'll get 98 percent protection with 50 SPF sunblock.
Opt for Broad-Spectrum Protection
Look for sunblock offering broad-spectrum protection since that means you're getting protection against both UVB and UVA rays. While sunblock can block UVB rays, which is a major cause of sunburn, UVA rays can also affect your skin many years later via early aging and skin cancer.
Put Your Sun Protection on Early
Chemical-based sunscreen does not start to work immediately. In fact, you may have to wait as long as 20 minutes before it finally kicks in. The earliest will probably be about 10 minutes. That 10 to 20 minutes per day of not having sun protection can add up over time.
That's why we recommend avoiding chemical-based sunblock altogether. Dr. Arthur recommends sunblock, which typically contains zinc and titanium.
We love the Sunforgettable Brush SPF 50 from colorescience. You can use it alone or on top of makeup, and it's easy to apply on the go. It has a 50 SPF and a water resistance of 80 minutes. You apply it using a brush, so there's no gooey residue on your hands. It also guards against pollution exposure.
More → How to Protect Your Skin
Reinforce Your Sunblock with Other Techniques
The smart use of sunblock is a big part in keeping your skin young-looking and healthy for as long as possible. That said, you increase your chances of avoiding sunburns, premature aging, and skin cancer even more if you use other sun protection techniques along with sunblock. For example:
- Wear protective clothing that wicks away moisture.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Go outside during cooler times if possible, for example, before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
- Wear sunglasses and hats with brims.
- Keep children 6 months and younger out of the sun, and use stroller sunshades.
As for sunblock protection, the short-and-sweet summary is to choose something broad spectrum that is water resistant for a clearly specified length of time and that you apply often and in advance of going out.
Schedule an Appointment to Check Your Skin
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. In fact, there are about 5.4 million cases in the United States each year, and some forms are quite deadly. The good news is that the cancers can be cured in most cases if they are caught early. Today is a great time to schedule an appointment with us to check on your skin or your loved ones' skin. Just fill out this online appointment request form.