SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – To celebrate the start of summer 2022, Central New Yorkers are heading out to local lakes, recently opened city pools, and regional golf courses. But as they pack swimsuits and clubs, doctors encourage everyone to remember a vital addition: sunscreen.
Sunscreen protects people from the sun’s harmful UV rays. UV rays cause premature skin aging and wrinkles (UVA) and sunburns (UVB). While exposure to UV light is at the highest in direct sunlight during peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the rays still reach the ground all year — even on cloudy days. The American Cancer Society offers a shadow test to see how strong the sun’s rays are: if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are at the strongest.
A common misconception about sunscreen is that the number associated with the SPF offers variable coverage. While SPF 30 does offer more sun protection than SPF 15, it doesn’t offer twice the coverage according to the American Academy of Dermatology. They recommend an SPF of at least 30, while noting that higher SPFs (70-80) only offer minimally higher UVB protection. What’s more important than the SPF number is the indication of “broad-spectrum coverage.” This coverage protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
To make the most of your sunscreen application, the American Academy of Dermatology indicates people should:
- Choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, with broad-spectrum coverage and water-resistance
- Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure
- Use 1 ounce of sunscreen (about the size of a shot glass) to fully cover an adult’s body
- Apply sunscreen to all bare skin, including lips, hair part, ears, and neck
- Reapply sunscreen after two hours or immediately after sweating or swimming
While sunscreen use can protect from some sun damage, sunscreen alone cannot provide full protection. Dermatologists also recommend people seek shade, use clothing as an added layer of protection, wear sunglasses, and avoid tanning beds.