Getting the most out of your sunscreen

Sunscreen can, literally, be a life saver – but only if selected and applied correctly.

In general, it is advisable to use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. To ensure you get the full effect, however, you need to apply about one ounce (or the amount of a full shot glass). Studies show that most people only apply a quarter to a half of that amount, meaning that they’re actually getting much less of the SPF than what is advertised on the bottle.

During a long day at the beach, one person should use one quarter to one half of an eight-ounce bottle.

You’ll also need to apply sunscreen thirty minutes before going into the sun, and reapply it every two hours. You should also reapply immediately after swimming, toweling off or sweating a great deal. Always apply just as much sunscreen when reapplying as you did initially.

Sunscreen is essential, regardless of age or how cloudy the sky may appear. It is a common misconception that sunscreen isn’t necessary on cloudy days. In reality, 40% of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day. Those who assume that most of our exposure to the sun comes as children, meaning that it is too late to make a difference later in life, are also mistaken. In fact, it is men over the age of 40 who spend the most time outdoors and get the highest annual doses of UV rays.

Additional information about sunscreen and skin cancer be found at www.skincancer.org.