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Summer safety: The do’s and don'ts of sunscreen

Young freckled woman applying sun screen cream on her arms

Have you been including SPF in your everyday skincare routine? Understanding how to protect your skin from the sun and using sunscreen is vital to lowering your risk of skin cancer — the most common form of cancer in the U.S.

Basal cell carcinoma affects more than four million people in the nation each year. With the help our dermatologists, we’ve narrowed down the most basic steps you can take to offer your skin the most protection.

DON’T use coconut oil as an alternative

Although some sunscreens contain coconut oil, the oil itself does not protect against skin damage. For some individuals, coconut oil may extend burn time, but it has very low levels of UV protection.

DO use more than you think

You want to use more sunscreen than you think you need to effectively protect your skin. It is recommended that you use a shot glass full to cover the body, and a fourth to a half teaspoon for the face.

DON’T only use sunscreen

The sun is most intense during 10 AM and 4 PM. And sunscreen, though it protects your skin from UV rays, is not an all-protective force field. It is intended to be combined with other sun-safety approaches. For the most protection, wear a hat and sunglasses, seek shade, and stay hydrated.

DO reapply often

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, even on cloudy days. Remember to reapply if you plan to stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

DON’T use expired sunscreen

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to sunscreen. Some sunscreens come with an expiration date. Those that don’t, have a shelf life of no more than three years with an even shorter shelf life if it has been exposed to high temperatures.

DO use on all skin types

Sunscreen is not just for fair skin. All skin types need protection from harmful UV rays. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside to all exposed skin (yes, even your ears and part line on your scalp) to allow it to absorb into the skin and offer the best protection.