FDA

Charleston Dermatology Tip: The Proper Way to Apply Sunscreen

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After reading our previous blog post on sunscreen, New FDA Rules on Sunscreen, you should be aware of how to choose the right sunscreens for effective protection. However, the correct application of sunscreen isn’t monitored like the label requirements and can make as much or more of an impact on your skin’s protection from the sun. Living in sunny, warm Charleston means that you’ll need to take extra precautions to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

As a dermatologist located in the Lowcountry, we receive many inquiries regarding sunscreen application: How often should you apply sunscreen? ‘Frequent’ is a vague term often used on labels, but doesn’t offer much depth in instruction. And how much is an adequate amount to apply? How early prior to going outdoors do you need to apply?

These important factors can make a vast difference in the effectiveness of your sunscreen, so follow the steps below according to the AAD for the proper way to protect your skin.

Who?

Who needs sunscreen, you ask? Well that’s a trick question – because everyone needs to wear sunscreen. Skin cancer appears on people of all skin colors, of which many incidents could have been avoided if proper skincare had been implemented.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, affecting more than 2 million people with more than 3.5 million skin cancers. Applying sunscreen the correct way is crucial for everyone to having healthy skin.

What?

The AAD recommends everyone use sunscreens that offer broad-spectrum protection (UVA and UVB rays), SPF 30 or higher, and lotions that are water resistant. (Check out our blog to help you pick the right one.)

When?

Apply sunscreen every day. Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can pass through the clouds and penetrate your skin. In addition, snow and sand increase the need for sunscreen. Ever gotten a goggle tan-line from going skiing? That’s because snow reflects 80 percent of the sun’s rays. Make sure you apply sunscreen 15 minutes BEFORE going outside.

How much?

Most people only apply around 25% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. In reality, you must wear a generous amount to cover your skin completely – a full ounce, the amount of one full shot glass, should be enough to cover all of your exposed areas.

Re-apply every two hours or after swimming or excessively sweating, according to the directions on the bottle. Studies have shown that applying every 20-30 minutes is more effective than waiting 2 hours.

Last but not least, make sure you’re covering those tricky spots – lips, ears, scalp and the tops of feet, for example. Your lips are also at risk of cancer, so apply a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher for full coverage.

Thinking back, do you think you’ve been applying enough sunscreen for adequate protection? Have you noticed yourself using more sunscreen with the new FDA regulations in place?


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