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Choosing and Applying Sunscreen continued...

But picking the right sunscreen is only half the equation. You also need to use it correctly. If you think you only need to apply sunscreen when you’re at the beach or on sunny days, think again. “It’s good to get in the habit of applying sunscreen every day,” says Kauvar. “Most people get more sun exposure in the course of a day than they realize, even when it’s overcast.”

Kauvar recommends these tips to get the most sun protection out of your sunscreen:

  • Apply the sunscreen about 30 minutes before you plan to go outside. This gives the sunscreen time to be absorbed by your skin.
  • Be generous. The general rule of thumb is about one ounce for each application, and you’ll want to cover all exposed areas of the body. Some often-missed spots include the ears, the feet, and any area of the scalp where the hair is thin. And don’t forget the edges and straps of bathing suits, a common place for burns.
  • Reapply the sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.

Other Prevention Tips

Wearing sunscreen is a must for summer months. But it’s not the only way to help prevent skin damage while enjoying the great outdoors. Here are some other suggestions:

Wear a hat. A wide-brimmed hat will help keep the sun off your head, face, and the back of your neck. For the best protection, choose a hat with a tight weave.

Choose clothing carefully. Wearing dark-colored clothing with a tight weave can also limit sun exposure. The darker the color and tighter the weave, the more protection the clothing offers. “A white T-shirt has an SPF factor of about 4,” says Kauvar. “And if it gets wet at the beach or pool, it offers almost no sun protection.” Consider wearing a darker-colored cover-up at the beach or pool instead.

Avoid peak hours. The sun’s rays are strongest from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. A good rule of thumb is to limit your time in the sun when your shadow is shorter than you are.

Seek the shade. Enjoy the outdoors from under the shade of a cabana or a row of trees. Because the sun’s rays reflect off sand and water, it’s a good idea to use multiple umbrellas or a larger shade structure while at the beach or pool. “The more sunlight you can see reflected around you, the more indirect sun you’re getting,” says Kauvar.

Protect your eyes. The delicate skin of the eyelids is a common place for skin cancer. And excessive sun exposure can also lead to cataracts. Choose a pair of sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection rating to protect your eyes from the sun’s damage. Wraparound styles offer the most protection.

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