Are you really as hot on sunscreen as you think you are?

SunscreenCC: Ethan Robertson at Unsplash

Worldwide, heatwaves are making the headlines. In France, schools are closing down and the Parisian public is swimming in fountains. As for Greece, its residents are going to bed with frozen hot water bottles.

According to Global Change, there’s been a significant rise in heatwaves in the United States since the 1960s. While there are lots of health measures you need to prioritize, we’re going to focus on sunscreen.

As the remedy that’ll prevent blistering burns and an increased skin cancer risk, sunscreen is something most of us are familiar with. However, many of us take a lax approach to its use. Before the next heatwave hits your area, you need to up your sunscreen game.

Know which sunscreen to look for

Choosing the right sunscreen isn’t as easy as you think. When you walk into your local Walmart, you’re hit with a litany of brands that all come with different perks. For a successful purchase, look beyond the packaging and see if it ticks the following boxes:

  • Is it broad spectrum? You need to protect yourself against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Does it come with an SPF of 30 or higher? SPF 30 gives you 97% protection, whereas SPF 15 only filters out 93% of the sun’s rays.
  • Is it water resistant or is it waterproof? Only waterproof sunscreen withstands the threats of splashes and time in the pool. Water resistant does not.

Time your applications

If you tend to apply your sunscreen the second you step outside, you’re already too late. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying it 15 minutes before you go outside.

Make further applications two hours after the first. Or, after sweating heavily or going for a swim. Spending five minutes applying your sunscreen every two hours is worth it if you’re going to avoid short and long-term health risks.

Apply your sunscreen to bare skin

Identify the parts of your skin that will be exposed and apply your sunscreen before applying anything else. If you regularly wear a moisturizer, this means sacrificing your moisturizer for sun protection instead. Don’t worry about losing your usual softness, as protecting your skin helps you maintain it and most sunscreens moisturize anyway.

If you wear makeup, you may want to consider using suncream as part of your usual beauty routine. Alternatively, if the idea of doing that seems unfathomable, find a foundation that comes with a minimum SPF of 30 instead.

Use an application method that works

Are you more likely to succeed with a traditional cream? Or, will a far-reaching spray make your life easier? Some people even prefer to use colored creams, especially parents. The color allows them to see where they’ve protected their children, which then reduces their chances of an unwanted burn.

Finally, don’t forget those sneaky small areas you might usually forget. Think about the base of your neck, your ear lobes, and soles of your feet as well as all the major areas of your body.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.