Enjoy the Sun Safely with These Sunscreen Reminders

☀️ Sun Safety Tips for a Hot Summer Day

By Jennifer Hill, Fremont CA Publisher May 20, 2024

While sunscreen is important to use year-round, the sun is stronger and we tend to spend more time outdoors during the summertime, so be prepared and enjoy the sun safely with these tips from the American Academy of Dermatology.

  • Choose a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and provides broad-spectrum coverage.
  • Apply sunscreen generously at least 15 minutes before going outdoors. It takes time for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. If you wait until you are in the sun to apply sunscreen, your skin is unprotected and can burn.
  • Use enough sunscreen. Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about enough to fill a shot glass or the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.
  • Apply sunscreen to all bare skin. Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet, and legs. For hard‐to‐reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen. If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide‐brimmed hat. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours to remain protected, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.

Remember, not all sunscreens are safe or effective. A sunscreen's SPF rating is designed to tell you about the product's effectiveness in preventing a sunburn caused by UVB rays. However, it is the UVA rays that penetrate the skin, contributing to skin damage and cancers. The "Broad Spectrum" label indicates that a sunscreen provides both types of protection.

Additionally, chemical sunscreens may contain ingredients that are harmful to marine life. Certain sunscreens have potential hormone disruptors. Mineral Sunscreens provide the most effective protection with the least potential side effects, according to numerous Environmental Working Group (EWG) studies.

  • Avoid: Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, PABA, and Trolamine Salicylate
  • Look For: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone, or Mexoryl SX
  • Get EWG's Guide to Safer Sunscreens

Create a morning routine for yourself AND your kids that includes a first coat of sunscreen. For my kids, I use a non-oily moisturizer with a 30 SPF on them after they brush their teeth each morning.

Then before they go outside, I apply sunscreen to their exposed skin as well, using a face stick to get underneath their eyes and across the forehead, nose, and cheeks, followed by a quick application of lip balm with sunscreen. They don't complain because this is a daily routine for them and a MUST before they can play outside.

In addition to wearing the recommended sunscreen, try to stay in the shade when the sun is at its most intense (generally 10:00 AM–2:00 PM), wear long sleeves (you can find awesome rash guards/swim tops for this that are very lightweight so you don't overheat), a hat, and sunglasses.

Even though we always take precautions, we occasionally end up with sunburn. Yikes! Now, what to do for sunburn? For mild sunburn:

  • Cool baths reduce heat and will help skin to feel better quickly.
  • Use moisturizer on damp skin to rehydrate skin. Use hydrocortisone cream or after-sun products like aloe vera for relief, but make sure they do not include "-caine" such as benzocaine, which has the capacity to cross-react with some sunscreen ingredients.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Drink extra water to avoid dehydration.

If the skin blisters, you have a second-degree sunburn. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you allow blisters to heal untouched as they will protect the new skin and keep infection out.

If the blisters cover a large area, such as the entire back, or if you have chills, a headache, or fever, seek immediate medical care. With any sunburn, you should avoid the sun while your skin heals.