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How to Avoid the Burn While Enjoying the Sun

By Sara Butler

The Importance of Sunscreen

The words self-care and wellness are talked about quite a bit. You hear them in reference to diet and exercise, even meditation and stress management, but don’t hear them much when it comes to caring for your body’s largest organ: your skin.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1 in 10 Americans reports using sunscreen daily. That may be why skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the U.S., with 1 in 5 people developing it by the age of 70.

This summer may not have you doing the things you normally would, but one solace everyone can find is going outside and enjoying the sun. Now is the perfect opportunity to make sunscreen a part of your daily wellness plan. Here are some tips on how to do that.

Who Should Wear Sunscreen?

Who should wear sunscreen? Everybody!

There’s no person who is exempt from the possibility of developing skin cancer because it doesn’t discriminate based on gender, race, or age. Protecting your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun is something everyone needs to make a priority.

What Type of Sunscreen Should Be Used?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should look for a sunscreen that offers these things:

  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Broad-spectrum protection against UVB and UVA rays
  • Resistance to water and sweat

These things will help to protect your skin from sunburn, signs of aging, and cancer, but it won’t fully protect you. On top of wearing sunscreen, you should also do these things to protect your skin.

  • Wear protective clothing - If you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time, wear lightweight clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants. Don’t forget the sunglasses and hat, either.
  • Find shade - Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the sun’s rays are the strongest. If you’re going to be out at that time, then try to hang out in the shade as much as you can.
  • Use caution - If you’re going to be near sand, snow, or water, then take extra care. These things can reflect the rays of the sun and increase the chances of damage to your skin.

How Much Sunscreen?

Finding the right amount of sunscreen is important. Use too little, and you’re increasing your risk of damage to the skin. Use too much, and you’re simply wasting sunscreen!

The rule of thumb (or palm in this case) is to use about one ounce of sunscreen, which is what you need to cover your neck, face, legs, and arms. One ounce should be enough sunscreen to cover your palm, just for reference.

How to Make Sunscreen a Part of Your Routine

Just as with many other things in life, making sunscreen a habit means you have to remember to do it each day until it simply becomes automatic.

Start by applying sunscreen before you get dressed in the morning. If you apply it at the same place, at the same time each day, then that’s a habit in the making! If you need to reinforce the habit even more, then connect sunscreen application with another habit you may have, such as brushing your teeth. After you brush your teeth each morning, then it’s sunscreen time!

Trade Out for Sunscreen

Is there another part of your morning routine you can swap out sunscreen for? If you can find something to replace with sunscreen, then that makes the habit even easier to adopt. If you moisturize each day, then think about replacing your moisturizer with a product that has SPF in it.

Find a Benefit

Research shows that people are more likely to stick with a new habit if they see results quickly. Sunscreen application isn’t an activity that can bring instant gratification, which is why it’s vital to focus on immediate benefits. Try to find a sunscreen product that helps your skin to look and feel better and you’ll notice results that help to spur you to apply it every day.

Carry It With You

Sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day, especially if you’re going to be outside. Make sure to remember to take some with you wherever you go to make reapplication easy to remember and do.

Your skin does a lot for you, so make sure you take care of it. Daily sunscreen is one way you can cut your risk of skin cancer -- and if you play the long game, it’ll help your skin to stay healthy and beautiful as you get older.

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