Cancer Care Preventive Service Skin

The Proper Way to Apply Sunscreen

Did you know there is a science to applying sunscreen? There is because sunscreen that isn’t applied correctly isn’t as effective. By applying sunscreen properly, you’ll be protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays lessening your risk of skin cancer and premature wrinkling.

In addition to proper sunscreen application, choosing a sunscreen that is 30 SPF or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays are important factors in reducing your risk for skin cancer. And even though sunscreen sprays are less messy and quicker to apply, using a lotion provides more consistent coverage.

Now that you know the type of sunscreen to purchase, here are tips to make sure you apply your sunscreen the right way before you hit the beach, tackle some yard work or head out for that daytime walk.

  • Apply sunscreen before stepping outside. Sunscreen takes approximately 15 minutes to absorb into your skin and protect you. Don’t wait until you’re already in the sun to apply sunscreen as your skin will be unprotected and can burn.
  • The more sunscreen, the better. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Make sure to rub it into your skin.
  • All exposed skin needs sunscreen. Don’t forget your ears and tops of your ears and protect your lips by applying a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15. Also, if you have thinning hair, apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide‐brimmed hat. Wearing a hat will further protect your face and ears.
  • Don’t wait until it’s too late to reapply. The general rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.

*Source: American Academy of Dermatology,

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