Each sunscreen comes with an SPF number, which stands for sun protection factor. This number tells you how much UV light the sunscreen can filter out. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 filters out 93 percent of the sun’s UV rays, while sunscreen with an SPF of 30 filters out 97 percent of the sun’s rays. SPF 50 sunscreen filters out 98 percent of the sun’s rays. It’s important to note that no sunscreen can filter out 100 percent of the sun’s rays. (AAD) recommends choosing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Aim for Broad Spectrum Protection
The sun emits two types of UV rays. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays have the ability to penetrate deep into the skin and are responsible for premature aging in the form of wrinkles, fine lines and age spots. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays burn the superficial layers of the skin, which can lead to sunburns and even skin cancer. Wearing broad spectrum sunscreen offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Check the Expiration Date
Many people tend to use the same sunscreen bottle for several summers in a row. However, this is highly discouraged as sunscreen does expire. Before applying sunscreen, make sure to check the expiration date. If you don’t see an expiration date, keep an eye out for visual signs. If the sunscreen has changed in texture or color, it’s time to throw it out. Most sunscreens without an expiration date have a shelf life of no more than three years. Writing the date of purchase on the bottle can help you keep track of when it’s time to get new sunscreen.
Reapply, Reapply, Reapply
Sunscreen is not meant to last the entire day. Most sunscreens wear off after two hours. If you plan on spending more time outdoors, make sure to reapply after every two hours and after sweating. One ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) should be enough to cover all exposed areas of the body.
Don’t Forget the Lips and Hands
Often forgotten, the lips and hands are also vulnerable to sun damage. For the lips, use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15. Other delicate areas to protect include the back of the neck and scalp. Protect your head with a hat (big, floppy hats are ideal because they also protect your face). Or, lightly spray sunscreen on the area where your hair parts.
Use Sunscreen Year Round
Your risk of sun damage does not simply go away once summer is over. Experts say about 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays penetrate through clouds and can reach your skin. Spending countless hours outdoors during cloudy weather without sunscreen can still lead to sunburns, not to mention premature wrinkles, fine lines and sun spots over time.
How to Address Sun Damage
If you are seeing unsightly signs of sun damage on your skin, a cosmetic treatment with the Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists can help. Our team offers several options to fit the personal needs of each patient. To learn more, schedule a one-on-one consultation by calling (404) 255-2975.