What You Need to Know About Sunscreen and Protecting Your Skin

Those warm, friendly rays of the summer sun may feel good on your skin, but it’s important to take precautions. Excessive exposure to UV rays increases your risk of skin cancer, and can also cause your skin to lose its youthful glow.

The team of leading dermatologists at Dermatology Associates of Central New Jersey, with three convenient locations (Old Bridge, Union, and Freehold, New Jersey) are dedicated to helping you keep your skin healthy. To that end, they offer the following guidelines about using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer and reduce unwanted wrinkles, brown spots, and a leathery texture.

Just follow these simple sunscreen tips.

Choose the right SPF 

SPF stands for sun protection factor, and it reflects the level of protection a sunscreen provides against the sun’s harmful UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. You should also choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers protection against UVA and UVB rays, as well as other ultraviolet light that could harm your skin.

Apply the correct amount 

Don’t skimp on sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation says you need about an ounce — the amount that fills a shot glass — to cover your face, arms, and lower legs. If you need to cover more areas, use more sunscreen. Don’t forget neglected areas like the tops of your feet, your ears, and your scalp where your hair parts. Use a lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips, too.

Use early and reapply often 

Apply your sunscreen about 15 minutes before heading out to give the product a chance to start working. Then reapply sunscreen every two hours while you’re in the sun and more often if you’re swimming or sweating a lot. 

Store sunscreen correctly 

Excessive heat can degrade sunscreen so it’s not as effective. Keep your sunscreen out of direct heat and sun. If there’s no shade, wrap it in a towel or keep it in a cooler between uses.

Combine sunscreen with protective clothing 

Wear a long-sleeved shirt, a lightweight jacket, or another type of wrap for more protection for your arms, lightweight pants for your legs, and a hat with a brim to protect your head, face, ears, and neck, especially when the sun is at its hottest and strongest. Always wear protective sunglasses to keep your eyes safe from UV rays.

Avoid peak sun hours 

The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, so either stay indoors, stick to the shade, or use an umbrella or cabana if you’re at the beach or lounging poolside.

Wear it every day 

This includes cloudy weather. It’s easy to think we only need sunscreen during the hot months of summer. But, the fact is, we expose our skin to UV rays every day of the year — even when it’s cool or cloudy. Make applying sunscreen a daily habit. Your skin will stay healthier, and you can ward off early signs of aging, too.

Don’t use sunscreen on an infant without consulting with a pediatrician

While it’s important to protect a baby’s sensitive skin from the sun’s UV rays, the chemicals in sunscreen can be too harsh for babies under one year of age. Instead, protect your baby’s skin with clothing and shade.

Using sunscreen can help reduce your risk of skin cancer, and it can limit signs of skin aging, like wrinkles and fine lines. It’s also important to have routine skin cancer screenings and dermatology evaluations with our team to make sure your skin stays beautiful and healthy. 

If it’s been a while since your last dermatology appointment or if you have a skin issue that you’d like to discuss, use our online form to request an appointment or call one of our offices or request an appointment online.

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