Sunscreen Tips: How to Protect Your Skin Safely from the Sun

Lady enjoying sun on beach

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and melanoma is increasing yearly. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. One of the main causes is intense, occasional ultraviolet exposure. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.

One way you can protect yourself is by applying sunscreen. Protecting yourself from the sun is more than just putting on a dab in the morning. Here are some ways you can be sun smart and make a difference:

Know Which Sunscreen is Right for You

There are two types of sunscreens: Chemical and physical. Physical sunscreens are made from either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These physical blockers lay on top of your skin and act as a mirror, reflecting the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens, which include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, actisalate, homosalate, and octocrylene, work by getting absorbed into the skin and then converting harmful UV light into non-damaging red light. People with skin allergies and sensitivity will want to stick with physical blockers, as to not irritate the skin. Physical blockers also need to be reapplied more—especially when swimming or sweating. There are also some SPF formulations that are a mix of both mineral and chemical blockers which can be a great option if your skin can handle chemical formulations.

Spray? No Way!

Spray-on sunscreens are very popular, it’s quick and easy but does it protect your skin? According to SDG dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian, “Half of it goes into the air, barely any of it gets onto your skin, you’re breathing in half of it. It’s just not the right way to get coverage. Lotions are always preferable but if you still want to use spray-on sunscreen spray it on your hands first before rubbing it into your skin and make sure to use two coats for enough protection.

Seek Shade and Dress Smartly

Another smart step to protecting your skin is by using a physical block from UV rays in the form of sun-protective clothing. UPF clothing can be very helpful but don’t forget to also put on sunscreen for extra protection. Another physical blocker comes in the form of beach tents and umbrellas. There are tents made of UPF 40 fabric that not only keep you extra protected.

Reapply, Reapply, Reapply!

Sunscreens are not a one and done kind of things. In order for sunscreen to take full effect, it should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Also, the reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours.

About Schweiger Dermatology Group

Schweiger Dermatology Group was founded to help make excellent dermatology care accessible throughout the Northeast. In 2010, Dr. Eric Schweiger started the practice with a single location in Midtown Manhattan. When he saw the need for high-quality dermatology care that did not require weeks or months of waiting to see a qualified provider, his vision of a multi-location practice was born.

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