Memorial Day is right around the corner – that means BBQs, swimming and days on the lake will be here before we know it! There’s no need to compromise your fun or limit outdoor activities, as long as you know how to safely protect your skin while enjoying the Minnesota summer!
The way we look at it, there are two strategies for sun protection (we recommend combining both!) The first is true sun avoidance; this is wearing a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and neck, wearing sun protective clothing (more on this below!) and pulling the big umbrella over to cover your picnic table. The second strategy for sun protection is sunscreen. There are endless options available, so it’s important to know what you should be looking for when buying a sunscreen!
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a sunscreen that is labeled ‘Broad-spectrum’
(meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays – both of which can lead to skin cancer AND the features of aging skin.) You should choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and labeled as ‘Water Resistant.’ One interesting sunscreen tidbit is that you’ll no longer see ‘waterproof’ on sunscreens – no sunscreen is 100% waterproof and finally the labeling has caught up with this fact! We recommend applying sunscreen 15 minutes before heading outside and reapplying every 2 hours (more frequently if swimming or sweating!)
How much sunscreen do you need? The truth is that less than 50% of people apply enough sunscreen to get the advertised SPF benefit. For most people, 1 ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) is the amount of sunscreen needed to cover the sun-exposed areas of the body. Don’t forget – you even need sunscreen when it’s cloudy (the UV rays still can get to your skin!)
What about the kids? It is imperative that children use sunscreen regularly. Children over 6 months of age should have a physical sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher applied every 2 hours. Physical sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to actually physically block the UV rays. These can be purchased in creams, sprays, sticks, even brightly colored formulations that your kids will love.
The sun protective clothing mentioned above is PERFECT for the little kiddos. Instead of fighting to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, throw on a sun protective rash guard while swimming and they won’t have to worry about creams or sprays to that area while they’re having fun. Previously difficult to find, these sun protective clothing items can easily be found in most children’s stores – adults can find fashionable sun protective clothing for themselves at many clothing stores, as well as outdoor and sporting stores.
Tareen Dermatology wishes you a safe, fun, and sun-protected start to your summer! Happy Memorial Day!