The Healthy Truth: Sunscreen tips

Sunscreen tipsDear Friend,

It’s crazy to think that it’s already mid-May, which means summer is fast approaching. With the days becoming increasingly longer and the sun getting stronger, it’s important to protect your skin against the sun’s potentially harmful rays. But frankly, you shouldn’t wait for summer to use sunscreen. In fact, sunscreen should be worn all year long (yes, even in the winter). This is because regardless of the temperature, the sun’s rays can still cause damage to your delicate skin, so whether it be hot or cold outside, without proper protection you are still very much at risk for sun-related skin damage.


Unfortunately, many of us do not protect our skin year-round and only do it in the summer, which isn’t that bad because the sun is much stronger during the warmer months so at least you are being proactive when it counts the most. The problem, though, is that many people aren’t using sunscreen correctly and, hence, aren’t fully protected.

You should be using about a shot-glass worth of sunscreen on your entire body. Some experts suggest that if you’re away for a beach vacation, one bottle of sunscreen should only last you two to three days.

Another tip is to use cream-based sunscreen, rather than the spray version. It’s been suggested that the spray variety of sunscreen does not administer the proper SPF protection as suggested on the can, compared to a lotion.

When looking at the SPF level, many experts suggest an SPF of 30, which is able to block out 97 percent of ultraviolet light. SPF 50, on the other hand, can block out 98.5 percent, so as you can see, there isn’t that much of a difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50. SPF doesn’t just tell you how much protection you will receive, but it also gives you an idea of how the lotion will feel on your skin. Generally, a higher SPF will feel greasier, compared to a lotion with a lower SPF. This greasy feeling may also affect the application frequency. A person may not reapply a greasier sunscreen as often because they believe that the product is still on their skin, compared to a less greasy-feeling lotion.
Sunscreen shouldn’t solely be applied to your skin—it’s also important that you protect your lips. Skin cancer on the lips can be far more difficult to treat, not to mention that it is a more aggressive form of skin cancer, so you will want to extend the protection onto your lips as well. An SPF 30 is enough to offer you decent protection. If you don’t like the feeling of sunscreen on your lips, there are many brands now making specific lip balms with an SPF as well.

Here are some other pointers to remember when purchasing or using sunscreen:

  • Always buy a broad spectrum sunscreen, meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Opt for physical sunscreens (rather than chemical-based), which means there are tiny bits of metal or minerals reflecting the light as opposed to absorbing it.
  • Always remember to reapply even if your skin still feels like it is covered. You should be reapplying sunscreen every two hours, but more frequently if you are sweating or going in water.
  • Sunscreen alone isn’t a miracle protector against harmful rays. It’s important to keep other sun safety tips in mind like avoiding times of the day when the sun is at its strongest and wearing protective clothing (and sunglasses).


By following these sun safety tips, you can enjoy the warmer weather all the while reducing your risk of skin damage and skin cancer. But remember, even on a cloudy day, harmful rays still get past the clouds, so you should always be putting on some layer of protection.

Until next time,

Emily Lunardo

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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