At Boulder Plastic Surgery, we want you to know how important it is to practice sun safety, especially during the summer months when the sun’s rays are the strongest and most capable of damaging your skin. The sun emits two kinds of ultraviolet (UV) rays — UVA and UVB — which penetrate different layers of the skin. Both can cause premature skin aging in the form of wrinkles, dark spots, and even skin cancer.
The best way to protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun is to wear sunscreen, but you need to know how to use it properly for it to be effective. Below are some tips on how to correctly use sunscreen to minimize your exposure to harmful UV rays.
What Kind of Sunscreen Should I Use?
You should choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protectant Factor) of at least 15. “Broad spectrum” means the sunscreen filters out both UVA and UVB rays, whereas the SPF indicates the level of protection provided against these rays. An SPF of 15 protects your skin 15 times more than if you wore no sunscreen at all.
Is Sunscreen With a Higher SPF Better?
The higher the SPF, the greater the percentage of the sun’s rays that get filtered — however, no sunscreen filters 100% of the sun’s UV rays. An SPF of 50 filters out about 98% of UV rays, so going much higher than this doesn’t provide significantly better protection. Higher-SPF sunscreens are especially ideal for sunny summer days when you are going to spend a lot of time outdoors during peak sun exposure hours (10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.).
How Should I Apply Sunscreen?
For the best protection, sunscreen should be applied about 15 to 20 minutes before going outside to ensure it is fully absorbed by your skin. Reapply at least every 90 minutes, especially if you’re sweating or swimming. You should also reapply after you’ve toweled off, since this can remove the sunscreen left on your skin after a swim.
Look Younger and Stay Healthier
Remember, just because you don’t get a sunburn doesn’t mean UV rays haven’t caused damage. Practice smart sun safety all year long to keep your skin looking younger and help prevent skin cancer. Contact Boulder Plastic Surgery at 303-443-2277 if you have any questions or concerns about previous sun damage or the possibility of skin cancer.