Be Sunscreen Smart! Five Mistakes You Might Be Making

July 2020

As you’re heading out for a day at the beach or park, you likely take a minute to apply sunscreen. Good for you! But just putting it on when you’re heading out for a sun-based activity might not be enough to adequately protect you from the rays that can cause skin cancer. Here are five mistakes that even vigilant people may make.

1. Not using enough.

Don’t skimp on the ‘screen. Here’s a rough rule of thumb from the Skin Cancer Foundation: Adults should use an entire ounce (visualize a full shot glass) of sunscreen for each application if you’re covering your whole body. A regular 8-ounce bottle should last just about a week if you’re using it all over every day, such as on vacation.

2. Not reapplying throughout the day.

It’s common to slather on one hefty application of sunscreen and then assume you’re done for the day. However, the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests applying sunscreen 30 minutes before you head out and then every two hours thereafter — and even more often if you’re sweating or swimming.

3. Neglecting sensitive areas.

Frequently skipped spots include the hairline (and any exposed parts of your scalp), lips, ears, feet, hands and eyelids, says the Skin Cancer Foundation. Believe it or not, between 5% and 10% of all skin cancers occur on eyelids or the eye itself. The good news is that most sunscreen is safe to use on or around the eye region.

4. Not applying it on cloudy days.

An astounding 80% of the sun’s UV radiation reaches us even when it’s cloudy, so don’t rely on those clouds to protect you, says the Skin Cancer Foundation.

5. Putting on sunscreen after you’re dressed.

It’s easy to forget to put on sunscreen until you’re headed out. But dabbing a little bit on exposed areas might not be enough if the clothing shifts and leaves your skin exposed. If you can see light through the fabric, UV rays can penetrate it too. Sunscreen up before you dress to make sure you’re in the clear.


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