Health experts always advise people to stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. But for most people (especially those with kids) that is unrealistic in the summer time, especially on the Fourth of July.
There are ways to avoid a burn and sun damage if you do spend all day in the pool, but it requires some preparation and diligence. Don’t just slather on your sunscreen and go — keep these tips in mind to help you avoid a painful sunburn while you’re outside tomorrow.
1. Using an old bottle
Go ahead and toss out that 5-year-old bottle of sunscreen — it won’t do you much good now. The expiration dates on sunscreen are actually important. Write the date you bought the sunscreen somewhere on the bottle and throw it out after one year.
2. Not using high enough SPF
If you dislike applying sunscreen, use at least an SPF 30 and you won’t have to reapply as often. SPF 30 also blocks 97 percent of rays. But you don’t have to shell out for SPF 75 or higher, says Dr. Jeannette Graf.
“(Higher SPF sunscreens) absorb more free radical-producing energy, so I recommend them for the summer,” Graf told MSN.com. “(But) the super-high SPFs can provide a false sense of security, like you’re protected for longer. But you need to reapply just as often as you would an SPF 30.”
3. Waiting to apply
Sunscreen needs about 20-30 minutes to absorb into your skin. You should put sunscreen on before you even put on your swimsuit, Dr. Linda Evans told totalbeauty.com. If you have to apply it to your back without help, use a spray sunscreen and make sure to apply two coats.
4. Not applying often enough
Don’t think you’re off the hook once you’ve put on your sunscreen for the day. You need to reapply often, especially if you’re going to be in water. Cancer.org gives two easy rules to remember: reapply every two hours or sooner and reapply after you’ve been sweating or swimming.
5. Only use on sunny days
Did you know 80 percent of UV rays still come through on cloudy days? Just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put on sunscreen. Make it a habit for every day of the year.
6. Only wearing sunscreen, not protective clothing
It’s important to protect your skin in more ways than one. Wear hats, shirts and sunglasses that block UV rays in addition to sunscreen.
Even the best of us make sunscreen mistakes. The American Academy of Dermatology offers five tips for treating a sunburn:
• Put a damp, cold towel on your skin for 15 minutes several times a day
• Use aloe vera to soothe the burn
• Drink extra water
• Don’t touch the blisters
• Wear clothing to cover the burn when you go outdoors.