Heading out? Don’t forget the sunscreen!
No matter how you like to enjoy being outside—whether you’re going for a run, heading to the beach or playing 18 holes—there’s one item you shouldn’t leave home without: your sunscreen. Applying a fresh coat is one of the easiest ways to protect your skin from UV rays and prevent skin cancer. Using it sounds like a no-brainer, but reports show that as few as 30 percent of Americans apply sunscreen on a regular basis.
Below are just a few common excuses used by people who go out unprotected and reasons why they don’t stand up. Any of these sound familiar?
A little sunburn doesn’t bother me. While your pain threshold may tolerate the occasional sunburn, you still are putting your health at risk. Studies show that those who have had five or more sunburns in their lifetime double their risk for melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
I’m not going to be outside for too long. The amount of time it takes to get burned depends on your skin type, but for people with more sensitive skin, sunburn can set in as quickly as 15 minutes.
It’s cloudy outside. Though the sun might not be shining, the UV rays that cause sunburn are still reaching your skin – as much as 80 percent of these rays can penetrate cloud cover and haze. If you’re going on a beach excursion, keep in mind that reflective surfaces such as water or sand will also magnify these rays to cause sunburn more quickly.
I’m not sure how to apply sunscreen, or what type to buy. The wide range of SPF levels listed on sunscreen packaging can be confusing. As a guideline, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30 as a minimum, with 50 being the most protective (though it sounds great, SPF100 likely won’t provide any extra protection over SPF50). As for applying, the 30-20-2-1 rule can be handy. That is: minimum SPF of 30, applied within 20 minutes of being outdoors, reapplied every two hours, using one ounce of sunscreen.
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Photo credit: Hacklock