Mid-Summer Checkup: Are You Still Making Sunscreen Mistakes?

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It’s hard to believe but summer is more than half over. Time for a mid-season checkup: are you still making sunscreen mistakes?

As the sunny, hot weather continues, we tend to become more complacent with our sun protection practices. I, too, am guilty as charged. So what better time for a few reminders? Here are a few more common sunscreen mistakes that we can check and correct:

  1. Not having a helping hand when applying sunscreen to the back and shoulders. With a catchy “Who’s Got Your Back?” slogan, the American Academy of Dermatology focused this year on bringing attention to the difficulties of properly applying sunscreen to your own back and highlighting the importance of having a friend help with this task. When my significant other appeared with a tell-tale red patch on the back of his shoulder from a few hours at the beach, this is one piece of advice I’ll be taking to heart.
  2. Getting fooled by the numbers. Despite popular belief, an SPF 60 sunscreen does not provide twice the protection of an SPF 30. Don’t get lulled into thinking that using a higher SPF means having to reapply less often. Chances are, you haven’t applied enough anyway to get the full protection listed on the label. When it comes to sun protection, more is definitely better. Apply liberally and remember to reapply every 2 hours, especially after sweating or going swimming.
  3. Relying solely on the sun filters that are included in your daily moisturizer, foundation or powder. There are times of the year that using a dedicated sunscreen is recommended due to the strength of the sun. If you live in the northern hemisphere, now is one of those times! Although we are slowly getting it that sun protection is a must all year round, you’ll want to get serious about your products especially in the spring and summer when sun exposure goes up due to longer days and more time spent outside in the warmth.
  4. Not applying sunscreen to your hands. It’s true: our hands often give away our age. Skin is skin, so even the tops of the hands can develop dark spots and wrinkles. Many sunscreens, like Ombrelle SPF 45 Face Cream, contain not only an impressive combination of sun filters like Mexoryl XL and titanium dioxide but also include vitamin E (tocopherol) to hydrate the skin. For an area of the body that gets as much exposure as the face, we think it’s pretty perfect.
  5. Not using a broad spectrum sunscreen. Along with the familiar SPF rating, the newest sunscreen labelling will have either “broad spectrum” right on the front of the box or the letters UVA with a circle around them. This indicates that the sun filters in the formula protect from UVA rays, the longer, more penetrating ones that cause wrinkles, dark spots, premature aging and some forms of skin cancer. Without broad spectrum filters, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to radiation that is equally damaging from dawn to dusk, on sunny days and cloudy days.

Apologies in advance if this post sounds preachy. I’ve got two teenage girls so believe me that I’m not allowed to preach! Except when it comes to safety of course. In this case, what mom says, goes. And if that doesn’t work, I can always play the pharmacist card. Usually, they listen.

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