Spending time outside is what makes summer so enjoyable. Whether you plan to spend a day at the pool, mill about a music festival or relax at a family barbecue, everyone looks forward to a beautiful, sunny day.
Before you head out, don't forget to pack your sunscreen! Leading dermatologists everywhere recommend that people of all skin types wear sunscreen as part of their plan to protect themselves from exposure to the sun's UV radiation, which can lead to skin cancer, including melanoma. Unfortunately, it seems most Americans are not heeding this advice. According to a recent Harris Omnibus poll, only 19% of Americans wear sunscreen on a daily basis.
But the verdict among experts is loud and clear: wearing sunscreen is one of the most effective, accessible ways to combat the risk of skin cancer. And along with other sun safety measures — including seeking shade and covering up where possible — you can enjoy warm weather and protect your health at the same time. Now that you know why it's important to protect yourself while enjoying fun in the sun, here are five common sun-protection missteps to be aware of before you head out.
Assuming all sunscreens are alike: Sunscreen isn't one size fits all. Everyone needs a different sunscreen that's tailored to their lifestyle and favorite activities, skin type and aesthetic preferences. Before you buy, read the label and factor your planned activities and likely time in the sun into your choice of sunscreen.
Skipping sunscreen on cloudy days: Don't be fooled! If you're spending time outdoors, there's no question about taking along your favorite sunscreen, even when the sun's not shining brightly. If you're prone to forgetting, try storing your sunscreen next to your tube of toothpaste. This small adjustment leads to a 20 percent increase in sunscreen use, according to a study published in 2017.
Missed spots: It happens to just about everyone from time to time. After a day of fun in the sun, that telltale redness on the shoulder or tricep reveals you missed a spot while applying sunscreen. Take care to apply and reapply sunscreen to all exposed areas. Enlist a friend's help to ensure all the hard-to-reach areas get covered. Don't ignore commonly forgotten areas like ears and the tops of feet. And if you're using a spray, always rub it into your skin after application!
Thinking you're one-and-done: If you have plans to spend any length of time outdoors, that first application of sunscreen will not protect your skin for the entire day — even when using the highest SPF sunscreens. The best way to stay sun safe is to reapply according to the directions on the package. To keep you on track, set an alarm so you always remember when to apply a fresh layer.
Forgetting your hat: Equally as important as wearing sunscreen is seeking cover from the sun's UV rays. To limit your skin's direct exposure to the sun, accessorize with and protect your eyes with sunglasses. Take advantage of opportunities to seek shade under a tree, umbrella or wherever it's available. But remember, sunscreen isn't optional in shade — studies have shown that beach umbrellas do not thoroughly block UV rays.
To learn more about the importance of having a full array of sunscreen options, visit ProtectMySunscreen.com.
Written by Brandpoint for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.