Back in a previous age, baby oil was the most common product used on the skin during the summer. I have three younger sisters, so I know the priority that used to be placed on how much tan a person could get.
Fortunately, we are more aware today of the damaging effects of the sun. Therefore, sunscreens are more likely to be used to prevent those deteriorations and reduce the risk of future skin cancer.
However, unless a given sunscreen is used properly, you may not be getting the full sun protection that the SPF, or sun protection factor, promises. The truth is that most people don't put on enough sunscreen.
Ideally, sunscreen should be liberally applied to exposed skin at least 20 minutes before going outside. It should also be reapplied every 2 hours if one is outside throughout the day.
This slogan is a good way to remind all of us to take the following precautionary measures against the sun: Slip on a shirt, Slop on suncreen, Slap on a hat, and Wrap on sunglasses. These four easy-to-remember steps protect the skin and the eyes from the aging and damaging effects of ultraviolet light exposure.
Shifting back to the sunscreen recommendation, reapplying is very important as some spots are missed on the first coating, and some sunscreens wearing off with sweating. Additionally, don't forget to apply sunscreen to the ears, nose, back of the neck, exposed areas of the scalp, decolette area, and tops of the feet. These areas get plenty of sun, but are frequently neglected.
Some other pointers to remember include:
- Water resistant sunscreens are not waterproof. After swimming, sunscreens should be reapplied once one reaches dry land again.
- Most makeups that tout their inclusion of SPF do not actually have enough sun protection to be truly effective. If you wear makeup, it is best to apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 even if your makeup has some SPF already.
- Sunscreens do lose potency over time. If your sunscreen is from last season, buy a new sunscreen and throw away the old remainder.
- Most complaints of sunscreen causing skin irritation come from people who have used chemical sunscreens. Rather than avoiding sunscreens altogether, try one of the newer chemical-free sunscreens called mineral sunscreens, which contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These reflect the sun away from your skin and are not absorbed, avoiding the irritation sometimes associated with chemicals.
We carry several medical-grade sunscreens for purchase in our offices and through our website. We recommend them not just because they are our products, but because of their efficacy and compatibility with our treatments.
If you have any questions about these medical-grade sunscreens, or even the over-the-counter choices, please call our offices in Augusta at (207) 873-2158, or in Scarborough at (207) 303-0125. Enjoy the beautiful weather this summer, but please protect your skin from the aging effects of the sun and its risk of skin cancer.