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How Sunscreen Savvy Are You?

Beautiful Young woman with sun cream on face.Spring hasn’t quite yet sprung, but we are planners around here in the world of dermatology, so we have our sights on summer. We know that, regardless of the time of year, the sun sends some pretty powerful rays of light our way. If we aren’t careful, we can quickly set ourselves up for consequences we don’t want to have to handle. Why wait until summer is in full swing to get your sunscreen game on point? Here, we discuss how you can do that with a few simple questions.

The SPF Factor

If you’re like most people, you are probably choosing your sunscreen based on its SPF. Sun Protection Factor is a big deal, right? Sort of. Here are the bare bones of what you need to know about SPF.

  • SPF lower than 15 protects you against sunburn but not against skin cancer. This also means that, if you routinely use SPF lower than 15 (or no sunscreen), you will experience the signs of sun damage, including premature aging.
  • SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 sunscreens about 98% of UVB rays

Going Further

SPF is important to some degree but, as you can see, higher SPF doesn’t offer a significantly higher amount of protection from harmful UVB light. There is more to sun protection than that. Sunlight carries both UVB and UVA light. Both are damaging. Both cause premature aging, and both contribute to your risk of skin cancer. UVA light is present all the time. It permeates through a cloud layer on a winter day. This is why dermatologists advise patients to wear sunscreen every day of the year. When choosing a sunscreen, look for the term “broad-spectrum” on the label. This tells you that the product will shield against both forms of ultraviolet light.

Let’s Keep Going

Are you concerned about the issue of sun damage and premature aging (and skin cancer??)? Then you want to know how to apply sunscreen properly. According to a consumer survey, most people miss the mark here. For sunscreen to do its job, it needs to be applied before going into the sun (no base tanning). It needs to be applied in sufficient quantities. One ounce for the body and 1/2 teaspoon for the face. Finally, it needs to be applied every two hours if you are in the sun for a longer period of time. Are you in the sun and going into the water? Reapply when you get out. Did you play a game of beach volleyball? Reapply your sunscreen after you’ve sweated.

Sun damage and skin cancer are important issues during the summer months, before the summer months, and after. The sun delivers ultraviolet light at all times, so we need to be savvy. Are you curious about your skin cancer risk or concerned about the signs of sun damage? Contact us today at 212.391.8600  to schedule a consultation at our office in Midtown Manhattan. We perform comprehensive, painless skin cancer screenings, perform Mohs skin cancer surgery, and also offer various treatments to correct the signs of sun damage.

Posted in: Skin Care

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501 5th Ave Suite #604 | New York, NY 10017
Hours: Monday – Friday: 7:30AM – 8PM
T. 212.391.8600 | F. 212.391.8601