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All About Sunscreen!
If you spend time in the sun, using sunscreen on a daily basis is very important. Here's the answers to some common questions about sunscreen:

How do sunblock and sunscreen work?
Sunscreen and sunblock protect your skin by absorbing and/or reflecting the sun's UVA and UVB radiation (e.g. rays). These are the rays that burn and damage your skin and can lead to skin cancer.

Different ingredients protect you from the two types of radiation. You want to make sure your sunscreen clearly reads that it is a broad spectrum sunscreen, so that you are protected from both types.

What sun protection factor (SPF) should I use?
The SPF measures how much the sunscreen protects you from ultraviolet (UV) rays. The higher the SPF is, the more protection you'll get. SPF 15 is good for "incidental exposure" to the sun. Examples of incidental exposure would be walking out to the mailbox or car or the time outdoors while running errands. A SPF 30, at least, should be used for prolonged periods of time outside (a day on the beach, playing sports, gardening). Redheaded people and those with very fair skin should use a sunscreen with a SPF of 50 or higher.

It should be noted that a SPF 30 does not give you 2x as much protection as SPF 15. When uses properly, a SPF of 15 protects skin from 93% of the UVB rays and a SPF of 30 protects skin from 97% of UVB rays.

A broad spectrum sunscreen that also protects you from UVA rays should always be used.

How often should I apply sunscreen?
You should put on sunscreen whenever you expect more than 20 minutes of sun exposure. Sun exposure begins the minute you walk outdoors, so be sure to apply your usnscreen before you leave the house. It is best to apply it about 15 minutes before going outside and then every 2 hours.

Water-resistant sunscreens lose their SPF after 40 minutes in water and after 90 minutes out of the water and need to be reapplied more frequently.

How much sunscreen should I apply?
Sunscreen should be applied on all parts of the body that are exposed to sunlight. At least 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) should be enough to cover those areas. Cover all exposed surfaces, including tops of ears, scalps where there is thinning or no hair, noses and bony surfaces.

Does my sunscreen expire?
At the beginning of every summer, check the expiration date on your sunscreen. If it is expired or will expire over the course of the season, be safe and buy new sunscreen. A bottle of good sunscreen doesn't have to cost a lot. It's a better idea to pay now than later!

Should everyone wear sunscreen, regardless of skin color?
Absolutely, African-Americans and other dark-skinned people should wear sunscreen. Although they may not burn as easily as those with fair complexions, they are not immune from skin cancer.
Sunburn and skin cancer are not the only side effects of sun exposure. Sun damages your skin and can cause dark spots and contribute to premature ageing and wrinkles. There's no reason to not use sunscreen! It makes sense for everyone.

How can I incorporate sunscreen into my daily routine?
These days greasy, tropical smelling sunscreen isn't your only option. Not only have the cream formulas improved, but sunscreen now comes in mousse, gel and spray (great for covering your back by yourself). Also look for SPF in some beauty & body products that you probably use everyday anyway. Products containing SPF can be found everywhere from your local drugstore to high end department store beauty counters. Look for:

  • Body moisturizer
  • Face moisturizer / day cream / eye cream
  • Aftershave lotion or balm
  • Foundation makeup, powder or liquid
  • Tinted moisturizer
  • Makeup primer
  • Lip balm, lipgloss & lipstick
  • Bronzers & self tanners

*keep in mind that these products need to be reapplied frequently, just like regular sunscreen products, to keep you protected from the sun's rays.

Sunblock and Sunscreen.
This website exists to spread awareness of skin cancer risks, detection and early prevention. It contains the opinions of one doctor and is not a substitute for the advice or care of your physician.
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