Fifteen to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, apply a handful of sunscreen over your entire body. It takes this long for the cream or lotion to absorb into the skin. Apply some to your face as well, or use sunscreen made especially for the face, such as Physician's Formula Sun Shield.
Hands, nose, fingers, toes -- go for complete coverage. Smooth lip balm or lipstick with sunscreen on your lips. Make sure the tops of your ears are covered (hats with a three- or four-inch brim are best for your face and scalp). For thinning hair, try sunblock products made for your head and scalp, such as Sun Splash Scalp Screen or Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Protector Spray.
Reapply sunscreen every two hours, more often if you're swimming or sweating. Check the label -- some water-resistant formulas last only 40 minutes (waterproof formulas generally last up to 80 minutes).
The SPF (sun protection factor) number tells you how long you can stay in the sun before you may need to re-apply.
If you usually start to burn in 20 minutes and your product has an SPF factor of 15, you can stay in the sun for five hours.
Here's the formula:
20 (minutes) X (SPF) 15 = 300 (minutes) or 5 hours
Need help with the math? Check out the chart below to help you choose the right SPF for all your "fun in the sun" activities.
Remember, you need to apply an ounce of sunscreen every two hours, which means a 4-oz. tube will only last eight hours. So if you're heading to the beach for a week, stock up. Buy more than one tube at a time to make sure you're covered.
See our SPF Chart and find out what SPF is right for you.
Just because it's cloudy doesn't mean you're protected from the sun. The rays also reflect off the sand and water (and snow).
UVR: the ultraviolet rays of the sun. UVB rays cause the burn; UVA rays are the ones that can cause skin cancer.
What's in a name? A sunscreen penetrates the skin layer and screens out the sun's rays. A sunblock is opaque and forms a physical barrier between your skin and the sun.
Avobenzone, (trade name Parsol 1789), is considered the most effective UVA screen. A broad-spectrum product is one that also contains UVB filters.
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