You’ve just spent a day in the outdoors, and your skin feels tender and hot. You arrive home to see sunburn revealing itself in the mirror, and wince because your fun day came with more than just nice memories.
“But, I applied sunscreen!” you remind yourself. While this may be true, you may not have bought the right kind of sunscreen – or even applied it the correct way.
Here are five reasons you might have missed the mark with your sunscreen.
You chose the wrong one
Store shelves are loaded with countless types of sunscreen. Which is right for you and your skin?
Choose a sunscreen that protects against both of the sun’s Ultraviolet (UV) rays: UVA (aging) rays and UVB (burning) rays.
Only a broad-spectrum sunscreen can do that. SPF (sun protection factor) has a number after it and lets you know how much UVB light it can filter. Select a sunscreen that has broad-spectrum protection, and an SPF of 30 or above.
It’s important to know that there’s no such thing as waterproof sunscreen. Some brands may be “water resistant” and good for up to 80 minutes in the water.
Also, sunscreen comes in many forms: cream, powder, lotion, spray, gel and stick. Consider the pros and cons of each (it’s easier to tell how much lotion you have applied versus a spray), and select the best version for you.
The application was too late
If you start applying sunscreen when you’re already basking in the sun, you’re too late. Sunscreen needs 15-30 minutes to absorb and begin protecting your skin. Apply before leaving home so there is enough time for absorption and proper protection.
The quantity wasn’t enough
Lay it on thick. Most adults need around one full ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill the palm of your hand) to cover the skin on their body. Children may need a little less.
You skipped a spot
You need sunscreen on any exposed skin, as well as skin that is covered by thin fabric, such as a T-shirt (which only provides an SPF of 4).
And, don’t forget those spots that are easy to miss: tops of ears, feet, back of legs, top of head (protect your head if your hair is thinning; scalp sunburn is uniquely uncomfortable).
You forgot to reapply
Sunscreen wears off fast; even quicker if you are sweating or in the water. Reapply approximately every 80 minutes. Read the instructions on the bottle to be sure you know how long the sunscreen is effective.
Are you completely protected?
You may think, with your sunscreen correctly applied, you’re completely protected from the sun’s harsh rays. Unfortunately, no sunscreen can fully protect your skin.
Be sure to include sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing in your bag. Also, take a break every now and then from the sun, and get beneath an umbrella during your day at the beach or pool.
And, don’t forget to have fun.