Memorial Day has now passed and most of us have cranked on the air condition in our homes and are finally enjoying being able to step outside your door without a couple feet of snow greeting you. Yes, mi gente, it’s finally summer! Along with your cute sundresses, d’Orsay pumps, and your favorite sunglasses, make sure you apply some sunscreen before you step out the door. Why? Well you don’t want skin that makes a tomato jealous, or even worse, that matches your favorite leather purse. All jokes aside, it only takes a few minutes a day to apply sunscreen to help avoid from developing skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Close to one million people get it every year, and every year this number appears to be increasing. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer, followed by those naughty tanning booths. Sunscreens have a number called SPF (sun protection factor) on the label. This tells you roughly how long you can stay out in the sun before you burn from UVB light. To calculate the SPF, you would take the time you would normally burn in the sun without protection (for most of us that’s 20 minutes). Then you multiply that with the SPF of your sunscreen. For example, if you have a product with an SPF of 15 then 15 x 20 equals 300. So with using a product with an SPF of 15, most of us will not burn for 300 minutes (or 5 hours). This does not mean that other activities, exposure or elements does not require us to continually reapply sunscreen throughout the day (keep reading). This leads me to some MYTHS I would like to debunk.
Myth #1 Dark skin does not burn. WRONG!
People with darker skin do have more melanin to protect them from getting sunburned as easily, however it does not protect them from cancer causing UV rays, or the aging process you see with continued sun exposure. While you may not need an SPF as high as a more fair-skinned person, you DO need a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
Myth #2 I can apply sunscreen once and I’m good for the rest of the day, especially if it’s “water-resistant”. WRONG!
You need to reapply sunscreen every 2 – 4 hours and make sure you apply it generously! Don’t be stingy, its your skin we are talking about. “Water-resistant” sunscreens also need to be reapplied. They are able to maintain their SPF levels for only 40 minutes after you get out of the water. Remember water resistant does not mean water proof.
Myth #3 Last year’s sunscreen is ok. WRONG!
Like many things, you need to check the expiration date, plus if you have diligently applied yourself with adequate sunscreen throughout the summer, you should really not have any “left overs”. Most guidelines say the amount that would go inside a shot glass or 1oz is needed to ensure you get the full SPF of a sunscreen. So go ahead, buy a new bottle.
Many of us women tend to use products that already have sunscreen in them (usually SPF 15 or higher). The Skin Cancer Foundation says that these are ok for general everyday activities, if you will only be in the sun for a few minutes sporadically throughout the day.The same rules follow, you need to reapply sunscreen continually to your face as you would to the rest of your body. Of course if you are going out in the sun, work outdoors all day then yes, you will need stronger and water resistant sunscreen.
The Environmental Working Group has a site making it easy to check out the sunscreens you may already have, or give you information towards your next purchase. As always take the time to read, become aware and make your own informed decision.
Have fun out there and make sure to protect your skin xo