Improve Your Sun Smarts

By , By Abigail Cuffey, of Woman's Day
You've been told hundreds of times that wearing sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin. But there's more to it than just slapping it on. "Most women only apply about 25% to 50% of the sunscreen they really need," says Elizabeth Martin, MD, a dermatologist in Hoover, AL.

You should use at least 1 oz of sunscreen (about how much it would take to fill a shot glass) to cover your face and all exposed areas of your body. As the day goes on, don't forget to reapply, especially if you're spending time outdoors. In that case, put on more at least every two hours. And keep in mind: A typical bottle of sunscreen is 8 oz, which means that if you're using it right, you should finish at least two bottles every sunny season, says Linda K. Franks, MD, director of Gramercy Park Dermatology in New York City. Flip through for more smart sunscreen tips and skin protection advice.

Label Smarts

Thanks to the latest FDA regulations on sunscreen labeling, bottles are starting to look a bit different. The changes are meant to give you more information about what type of UV protection the product offers as well as exactly what the sunscreen can do, says Reynold Tan, PhD, interdisciplinary scientist in the FDA's Division of Nonprescription Regulation Development. Know this info before you buy:

The type of protection it offers: To claim that it's broad spectrum, a sunscreen must protect against both types of rays: UVA (causes wrinkles and other signs of aging and can lead to skin cancer) and UVB (burns and can lead to skin cancer). After broad spectrum, you should see an SPF number that indicates the overall protection. (SPF 30, for example, means it will take 30 times as long for your skin to burn as it would if you were wearing no sunscreen.) Only broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher can say they reduce the risk of skin cancer plus early skin aging. Sunscreens that aren't broad-spectrum (ones that don't fully protect against UVA and UVB) and those with an SPF of 2 to 14 can only claim to help prevent sunburn.

What the terms mean: Waterproof, sweatproof and sunblock can't be used on a label because they may give you a false sense of security. (All sunscreen eventually wears off, and even the strongest ones need to be reapplied throughout the day.) And on a water-resistant sunscreen, the label must state whether it stays effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes during swimming or sweating.

Click here for more sun protection tips!

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Ok, I'm misreading something. If you're supposed to use an ounce for each application and a bottle is 8 oz., even if you only used it once a day, a bottle would only last about a week. And if you applied it more frequently, you could go through a bottle in a couple of days. How are 2 bottles supposed to get you through the "sunny season"? Report
good info Report
I go to Pensacola Beach Florida often since we live here, and I take a LARGE beach umbrella which I find works great. We go after 2 PM and have plenty of time to enjoy the water, or we go very early before 10 AM if possible. Report
Wow, knowing the importance, I do used sunscreen lotion for my kids, DH and myself. However, now I learned something why it is important. I did not know when it protect against UVA and UVB rays it protects us not only skin cancer but aging spots and wrinkles too. I also assume that the SPF # was relative to how sensitive/fair your skin was. I did not realize SPF less then 15 only took care of burning. I have olive skin and thought 8 to 15 was fine for me. My fair skin DH and children always get SPF 30 or more. Well, now so do I, we will all be wearing SPF 30+ and reapply often. Whether is says waterproof or sweatproof or not.
Thanks for sharing. Report
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